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Shefali ready to break the mould

After refusing plum roles, she returns as Kasturba in Mahatma versus Gandhi.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 12:24 IST

The talented but underused actor Shefali Shah has been swimming against the tide, preferring marriage and motherhood to the solid career that awaited her after pounding performances in Satya and Monsoon Wedding.

"I never thought of a career as a burning desire at that time. Marriage and babies are what I wanted at that time. Now I am just getting back to work. And don't you think Waqt and 15 Park Avenue are an incredible way to re-start?" says Shefali.

"Now I'm awaiting my third film Mahatma Versus Gandhi where I have a role that any actor would die for. I am lucky to be offered such roles after my comeback. The industry is showing me respect as an actor.

"After Waqt, I was terrified I'd be offered all the mummy roles. But I didn't. It made me feel very special. It was Amitji (Bachchan) who suggested I do his wife's role in Waqt. There were others who thought I would look too young. We did a lot of deliberation before I was in," says Shefali.

Shefali Shah in a still from Waqt- The Race Against Time. Shefali preferred marriage and motherhood to the solid career that awaited her after pounding performances in Satya and Monsoon Wedding.

Recently she appeared on screen as Rahul Bose's wife in Aparna Sen's

15 Park Avenue.

"It isn't much of a role space-wise. But to me, every role is special. Sometimes it hurts when I see my role being edited. But that wasn't the case with 15 Park Avenue... or Monsoon Wedding. That was magical! The ensemble cast looked like one family at a wedding. No one tried to upstage anyone else.

"Now in 15 Park Avenue, I was asked if I felt insecure about Shabana (Azmi) and Konkona (Sensharma). But it was a film, not a wrestling contest. I am at battle only with myself to get the character right."

Shefali smiles at the mention of director Aparna Sen. "She can actually put on screen the emotions within her characters. Konkona is incredible in this film. She's done it just right. Many of us tend to show all our abilities in every scene. Not Konkona in this film...You know, my endeavour is to blend into the larger picture. That was one of the strengths of my acting in 'Monsoon Wedding'. As an actor my struggle is to not allow myself to show off my talent."

Now she is excited about playing Kasturba Gandhi in Feroz Khan's Mahatma versus Gandhi.

"Though the film belongs to Gandhi and his son Harilal Gandhi, my role is pivotal. I age from 30, my own age, to the time Ba (Kastuba) dies," she says.

Shefali is playing  Kasturba Gandhi in Feroz Khan'sMahatma versus Gandhi.

"I have always laughed at actors pretending to be old. I remember the agony I went through when I played an oldie in a TV serial,

Salaakhen

. Kasturba couldn't have been faked at any level. People say I look like Kasturba. I lost a lot of weight for that role. That made my husband happy."

Look at what happened to Rohini Hattangadi after she played Kasturba in Richard Attenborough's film Gandhi! But Shefali is sure the same wouldn't happen to her.