Shefali Shah Speaks To Subhash K Jha On The Challenges Of Doing A Second Season Of Netflix’s Iconic Delhi Crime Franchise

I am overwhelmed with the love and respect I’ve received – Shefali Shah

While preparing to do Season 2 Of Delhi Crime what were the challenges in front of you?

Well, while doing season 2, one is that when you did Season 1, Delhi Crime and Vartika Chaturvedi had no act to follow up , and when I was doing season 2 and we were going to start, I thought ‘Oh my God, woh toh ho gaya. DC1 just happened.’ I did what I did, I don’t have a plan of action for DC2 and how do I step into those shoes which have just gotten bigger’. But I don’t know if there is something about the show and Vartika. I am possessed with her, totally possessed. Also, getting into that world and recreating the magic once is difficult enough, second time around. But I am so glad that we just stuck to our gut instinct and obsession with the show and the characters, and here we are.

What were the highlights of the shooting during the second season,besides Corona of course?

The highlights of shooting for DC2 were a lot. I remember the first time we had a reading with the entire cast, we were sitting in a room and everyone read. I had goosebumps and in my head I was feeling ‘Oh, my god. We are home’. It wasn’t an easy circumstance to shoot in. We also knew that in DC1 the crime was bigger but in DC2, Tanuj Chopra was choosing to harness and delve into the characters. It was all of it coming together. It was so organic the moment the entire cast, crew, Tanuj, David were together, it was like an unsaid synchronised chaos or dance or whatever you call it. It was just amazing

The volume of expectations from spectators for Season 2 is far higher than it was for Season 1.Does that worry you?

Season 1 we dealt with a crime and these characters came into the picture. Season 2 you have the characters and the crime happens. Of course, we know that we cannot match up to a case and crime like Nirbhaya but Season 2 makes some very pointed and poignant questions that everyone has to go through at some point of time. I mean, we can’t live in a delusional world of just I, Me, Myself. You have to be aware of what’s happening around us, and Season 2 explores that and prods you to those questions. I think it was a very intelligent, smart and conscious choice that Tanuj made saying that Season 1 was about the case and the characters were introduced and Season 2 is about the characters and getting into their frame of mind with something like this. Also, in Season 1 there was no moral ambiguity, there was no wavering of the moral compass for my character Vartika. In Season 2, she is left to question herself. Its not as simple as black and white, and in one line if I had to say it, I think this is pertaining to the earlier question you asked that what was it like coming back as Vartika to Season 2, what are the challenges. I’d say this all the time in my interviews : in Season 1 she became a hero, in Season 2 she is human, she falters, she has flaws. But she also has the dignity, grace and consciousness of accepting her flaws and correcting them.

I see Vartika Chaturvedi as a hard as nails professional on the surface but a woman with normal domestic professionals underneath.How do you see her?

Vartika is actually blessed and she is lucky to have the kind of support system she has at home. Her husband is from the police force so he understands the demands of her job. In fact she knows that she can go out and do what she does because there is a lot of support , so as a person she is someone who I think when she gets into something she goes out and does it. Even if there were problems like Neeti(Rasika Duggal) has in her family life, she would probably just fight it more vehemently than Neeti would. But like every working woman, Vartika has her home and she has her work. She chooses to be involved in both of them. It is not forced upon her. It’s a choice she makes. The fact that she has the freedom of that choice means a lot and I wish that could be the case for all women around.

How close are you to the rest of the DC cast and whom have you come closest to?

I say this all the time, I am as good as my team is and so is Vartika. She is as good as her team is and she respects them tremendously. They have an unsaid understanding of what is required of them in this moment. They respect her tremendously. They know that she will take it forward and she knows them not just for their professional strengths, but she also knows them as people, she understands it. And, sometimes she has to manoeuvre over certain people but her relationship with Bhupendra – it is one of the most beautiful relationships I have seen on screen and with Neeti, Subhash, Jairaj – all of them. It feels so good, I cannot begin to tell you how rich they all make me. See, when you do a project you all become close and then you have all intentions of staying in touch and meeting up but everyone moves on. But when we were back on set it was like a day hadn’t gone by. It seemed like they’ve been seeing each other everyday and it was just getting straight back to the original gang. It was amazing. I am blessed to have such amazing actors around me.

The audiences’ perception that if it is Shefali Shah it’s got to special must be unnerving for you?

I don’t know, I am overwhelmed with the love and respect I’ve received, and I continue to receive. When I go out to do something, I am not working with all this in mind because I am so obsessed with the show, project and character that all I am thinking of is how do I be true to her, how do I create this person not how Shefali enacts to be this person. That is the difference. If I have managed to become and recognize as a character rather than just Shefali getting compliments as an actor, I have done my job well. I think that works for me. All the projects I have done, I have never thought of it ahead as to what will happen. What all accolades we are going to get or what awards we’ll get. I am just so obsessed of what I am doing and that is the highlight of doing a project. The process of it and I enjoy it, I love it. Also, I go there believing and I know that I don’t really know so everyday is a new day, everyday is a learning, everyday I am scared. I think that works for me. The day I feel complacent or I feel okay I know, I am confident enough to go up there and do this, I think that will really hinder my growth. It really overwhelms me that people trust me so much.

What do we get to see you in next?

I have done a small guest appearance in Doctor G. It’s a very sensitive, funny and important film. I wanted to be a part of the ensemble, it was a commitment I had made prior but it’s a very sweet script. Then there’s this another film which I really love and it’s a deviation from all the strength you have seen of me in characters. It’s a film directed by Avinash Arun, it’s called the Three of Us with a beautiful cast of Jaideep Ahlawat, Swanand Kirkire and me. It’s a very delicate and fragile story loaded with vulnerability. I am so excited about that film. It’s like a haiku, it’s so beautiful.