Shefali Shah is currently experiencing the best phase of her career. From wearing a show like Delhi Crime to playing the parallel lead in Darlings with Alia Bhatt, the actor has had quite an eventful year. And now she can be seen in a major role in Ayushmann Khurrana’s Doctor Gwhich was released Friday.
In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Shefali talks about Doctor G using humor to tell an important story, about her career and what her children have to say about her choices. She also discusses the ever-changing trends in OTT and how movies haven’t fared well at the box office lately.
Excerpts from the interview:
What is Dr. Nandini doing in Doctor G?
She does what is expected of any doctor. She understands the importance of her job and loves what she does. She also understands that this is the profession people trust most, and she will do everything she can to follow the code of ethics. Dr Nandini does not compromise nor will anyone around her do it.
As you all know by now, the movie is really funny and has a fantastic ensemble. It is also a very sensitive film and talks about important matters without being preachy. I’m so surprised how that one dialogue from the movie where she mentions how a doctor is a doctor regardless of gender went viral and became a talking point. I think that’s the response we were all hoping for.
But what is your take on such stories told with humor?
I love it. As an audience, I don’t like the moral of the story of movies. Nobody likes to be read to. Anything that is told in an entertaining way automatically gets more eyeballs. As has rightly been said, a sugar coated quinine tablet is easier to take than a quinine tablet alone.
While any actor would talk about how much they learned from you, was there anything about younger actors like Ayushmann and Rakul that impressed you?
They’re just so focused and aware, and not just on set, but off. Even the image they bring out. I had no idea when I started, had no plan of action. Or even a solid drive. And even after all that, they’re just so grounded. It was just so sweet.
While young girls today know that there is so much they can do as actors, what drove you to become an actor?
I never thought I would become an actor. It was not on the horizon. However, I must add that my biggest inspiration, really I was just obsessed with Sridevi ji. I was also told that I resembled her and then I slowly started imitating her. Fortunately, one day wisdom knocked and I thought: what am I doing? There can be no other Sridevi, so stop it. That way it wouldn’t have become my calling because I was trying to be someone else. Another one that still remains a favorite is Smita Patil. They were both just something different.
Recently, Hrithik Roshan had mentioned how he disconnects from his characters after every movie. Do you have a similar practice?
I don’t even aspire to do it because every character I play takes away a role and leaves something behind. I won’t even be able to express it because it’s not something tangible or I know it will come back. It’s just there in the subconscious. I basically give my characters everything and I have nothing left in me. I always have to start with a clean slate with each new character.
With the kind of rolls you’ve been doing, does the phone ring constantly?
Not as much as I’d like. But the kind of releases I’ve had this year is proof that things have definitely gotten better. I think writers now think of me when they write something. They just don’t want to come to me with everything.
And what about social media? Are you now being approached for brand recommendations?
Again, not as much as I’d like. I was also very late on social media and there was no plan of action. I explain things exactly what I want. My sons often scold me for putting photos in my caftan, just chilling.
Since you mentioned your kids, what do they have to say about your career choices?
Oh, they are very proud of me. After Delhi Crime 2I got the best compliment from my son. He said you know you’ve become like Iron Man. I asked him if it was like being a superwoman? He shared that every Marvel superhero has been played by different actors, except Iron Man. Only one actor has played it and you have become like that. You cannot be replaced. I was so moved that I wanted to print it and stick it on the walls.
Have they shown an interest in acting?
No, they don’t. They are not interested.
Also at Shefali there is a perception that good actors can only play serious roles. What do you have to say about that?
I don’t think it should be. It’s ridiculous. I also think it’s an oxymoron where you say they’re good actors, but then classify them in one genre. It shouldn’t be.
Where it seemed in 2020 that OTT was the place for actors, it seems that makers are now also chasing big stars in the medium.
OTT came out as a boon not only for actors, but for all creative people. It’s not about that one Friday anymore. Our competition is now world cinema. With regional content and international content too, I think we all thrive together. At the same time, big stars and big cinema are a culture that will never disappear and should not disappear. I think that all together makes the industry richer.
But what about the disappointing box office figures for films in recent times?
Frankly, I’m not worried about it. I don’t even think about it because I don’t understand. Working on a project and being creative in it is the pinnacle of your career. The rest is just Ram Bharose. I also believe that every project has its own destiny. So I don’t care at all.
Doctor G walks in cinema halls.