Shefali Shah Talks About How She Was Typecast By The Industry And Only Given Roles Of Older Women. But She’s Certainly Changed That
As a country, we love putting out women into pigeon holes. No, not literal pigeon holes, no one would fit into those, but into slots that they can comfortably place you in. You’re not allowed to step out of these holes made for you, it makes everyone uncomfortable. This is true for society and Bollywood. But while it may seem okay, and some of us are fine with occupying that hole, others might want more or something else entirely. Let’s give them a chance also, no?
People think of it as something so harmless and yet it has cost many actresses in the industry their work, including Shefali Shah, who recently opened up about being typecast into a certain kind of a role ever since she started out. Having giving some of the most brilliant and remembered performances in Hindi cinema, Shefali Shah is known for her acting prowess and has so much to show for it. From taking a central role in the spine chilling Netflix original series, Delhi Crime, to taking up roles in movies like Dil Dhadakne Do and the likes of it, she’s a powerhouse of talent.
And while Shefali’s portfolio in the acting business has been quite diverse and telling, she shared how she too fell victim to the stereotyping by the industry when she joined in. She said, “It’s been a rocky journey. It was not like a smooth shell. Earlier, the star system played a big role in our industry. Also, I played elderly roles at a very young age. When I was 20, I played roles of a 35-40 year old female. So that’s how people labelled me and put me under that ‘elderly roles’ category. Coming out of that label was a big struggle.”
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And we can imagine how the filmmakers made it no easier on Shah, offering her the same kind of roles, regardless her age or potential. In fact, there was a time, when she even played the role of Akshay Kumar’s mother in the hit film Waqt, at the age of 33, while Akshay himself was 38 years old at the time. Guess getting typecast in this industry, much like other stereotypes, is only reserved for the women. And not to forget, she is still fairly young in the industry in comparison to her male counterparts, and more than capable of donning roles for her age.
However, talking about how things may now be changing and for the better, considering a lot has changed over the past few years, with women speaking up about such not-so-subtle gender bias, Shefali shared, “Projects like Juice, Once Again and Delhi Crime put me in a new light. Such projects showed me in the roles of my age group, wherein I played central characters. People now believe I have capabilties of carrying an entire film or show on my shoulders.”
Not just her, but other actresses like Neena Gupta, Ratna Pathak Shah, Madhuri Dixit have too helped in overturning such stereotypes by giving movies that have rested solely upon their calibre and proving their mettle.
Shefali Shah is currently working on the second season of Delhi Crime. Talking about it, she shared, “Delhi Crime 2 is currently in pipeline. It will explore a different case of crime. I feel blessed to be part of such crucial projects, which help in creating awareness among people.”