New Delhi: She has dabbled with theatre, television and done eye-catching character roles in many noted films, including "Satya" and "Gandhi, My Father", but when the expressive Shefali Shah got to play a lead role in "Kucch Luv Jaisaa" it felt like she was debuting again.
"It`s evidently completely opposite of what normally people do. I have reversed my career. I have always done what I have believed in and have stuck to my belief and conviction, which has not been conventional. Doing `Kucch Luv Jaisaa` was like a debut," Shefali told IANS.
Shefali forayed into Bollywood with a very small role in "Rangeela" and then went on to do critically acclaimed films like "Satya", "Monsoon Wedding", "15 Park Avenue" and "Gandhi, My Father". However, acting was never on her wish list, it just happened!
"My first brush with acting was when I was 10 years old. I did a play based on omen, about a child who was possessed. My teacher`s husband had written the play. But I never thought that I would be an actor some day; it just happened," she said.
Theatre was her stepping stone into acting.
"Before entering into television, I did theatre for five-six years. After that I moved on to films," she added. Once she got busy with movie roles, theatre took a backseat for Shefali who returned to the stage last year after 10 years with "Bas Itna Saa Khwaab Hai".
Shefali, who is married to producer Vipul Shah, admits that theatre has tremendously helped in shaping her up as an actor.
"It really challenges you in all your departments as an actor. In films, you have the option to give re-takes or give voice-overs, but in theatre it is your voice that reaches to the audience because beyond fifth row people are not able to see you," she said.
"There are gestures, remembering dialogues, presence of mind. It drains you, pushes you and challenges you in every aspect as an actor. Theatre has helped me polish myself," she added.
A role is a role for Shefali. Unlike other actresses, the 36-year-old didn`t shy away from playing the characters double her age in films like "Waqt: Race Against Time" and "Gandhi, My Father".
"Actresses do, stars do not. Luckily I am not in the shell mentally. I did it because it is my asset as an actor that I can be anything, I can play any age, any caste, creed, any nationality. If I have to play a man, I would do it. There were never any apprehensions - you want to play diverse roles," she said.
"Probably it didn`t work for me as the industry didn`t think so and typecast me," added the actress whose first proper role in "Satya" won her the Filmfare best supporting actress critics award.
In 2007, Shefali received the national award for her role as Vandana, Amitabh Bachchan`s partner in the film "The Last Lear". She even won the best actress award for "Gandhi, My Father" at the Tokyo Film Festival.
"Once I started doing the kind of films I did, I realised this is the kind of work I wanted to do. Every film kind of raised the bar, starting with `Satya`, `Monsoon Wedding`, `Gandhi, My Father`, `The Last Lear`, `Kuchh Luv Jaisa`, it`s all very powerful cinema," she said.
On the small screen, she debuted with "Campus" and later went on to do shows like "Tara", "Banegi Apni Baat", "Kabhie Kabhie" and "Sea Hawks".
Even now she won`t mind hosting a talk show, but the actress is in no mood to do television serials.
"A talk show yes, you want me to host I would consider it, but acting in a full-fledged serial, I can`t do it," said Shefali.
"When I used to do television, it used to be weekly. The quality of the product stayed, the storylines were different and everything was consistent. Now it is a daily and the industry has become like a factory," she added.
After "Kucch Luv Jaisaa", which got mixed response from critics and audiences alike, Shefali is now looking forward to doing roles her age.
"I would still look at the meat in a role, the importance of the role and the film. I will play my age," she said.