In the ‘80s, the heroine in films was an art prop, I never aimed to do those roles: Shefali Shah


Actor Shefali Shah has taken quite a few bold steps in her career, the foremost being playing a mother to a 15-year-old in a show, when she herself was just 20.
In an industry where female actors get easily stereotyped, and there’s also talk about how they have a “shelf life” for lead roles, one wonders how Shah managed to make her space?
“As an actor, the joy lies in being able to play roles that you are not. If I get a chance to play a sofa or alien, I would love it. Age is just one of the things,” she says.
The actor goes on to confess, “I wasn’t who I was at that point of time, and decided this was the challenge. I didn’t even think about it. Before Waqt (in which she played Amitabh Bachchan’s wife), I did Hasratein on small screen. I was all of 20 and played mother to a teenager. There was no thinking behind it.”
In her 40s now, she agrees that female actors do get stereotyped, despite the common belief that stronger parts and progressive narratives are being written for them.
“I played a mother onscreen so early on in my career, so (it’s the notion), ‘Now you have lost chances’. I did that because that’s the whole point of being an actor, right?,” asks the actor, who garnered a lot of praise for headlining the web show Delhi Crime, with the second season underway.
Shah recalls the bygone eras when female actors weren’t given meaty enough roles to play.
“In the ’80s, there was a fixed costume of a heroine, and not the physical costume, but this is what a heroine is, she is an art prop. She will look beautiful, support the hero, dance, get saved by hero. I didn’t ever aim to go there. Acting happened to me incidentally, I never planned,” she says.
Shah was in college when she was offered some serials and then Rangeela (1995) and Satya (1998) came her way. “Midway, when I was working?
full-fledged on TV, I realised I was loving it. I didn’t have a manger, or anyone promoting me. I never went to ask for work, it came to me. I never asked for it, and it’s not an ego thing.
I thought if any director find me fit, he or she will offer it to me,” concludes the actor.

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