The return of Shefali Shah's character ‘Madam sir’in Delhi Crime Season 2
Ahead of the Delhi Crime Season 2 premiere, Shefali Shah discusses the challenge of meeting the high standards set by Season 1.
Published: 25th August 2022 08:35 AM | Last Updated: 25th August 2022 08:35 AM | A+A A-
The death stares and silences of Shefali Shah’s characters have shipped plaudits her way. It’s not hard to notice that these traits, to an extent, find their origin in Shefali herself. You sense the same intensity too, the discernible passion in her voice as we navigate between topics. Certain words get more emphasis, and quite often, she takes these small moments of silence and when she returns with a thought, she uses her hands a lot to express herself.
It is almost like watching an actor performing, but without the theatricality, you would associate with a performer. I break the ice by asking what her thoughts were when she first approached with the idea of making a second season of Delhi Crime. The question may be generic, but the response isn’t.
“I was like… wow!” an elated Shefali exclaims. “I was familiar with Vartika (her cop character). I knew what she would say, how she would respond, what she would do... I feel the second season is deeper and more layered. The growth she undergoes between both seasons is quite exciting. Yes, there is another crime, and once again, it is making a huge social statement. Beyond these factors though, the idea of doing Delhi Crime again... the opportunity to bring back madam sir (the sobriquet used to address her character, DCP Vartika Chathurvedhi) was extremely exciting,” the actor says with a big smile.
While filming the first season, Shefali apparently bifurcated her performance into technical and emotional facets. The technicality of the performance meant she would keep a close tab on the details like the character’s state of mind during a specific point in the story, how long the character might have been awake, the last breakthrough in the case, and such factors that would contribute to her headspace.
The emotional facet of the character was trickier to figure out though.
Shefali reveals that her acting process remained the same for the second season.
“Like the first season, the story of the second season also happens over a relatively short span. A lot more happens here. In the first season, the focus was on nabbing the criminals, with my character fighting against time. Here, it is not so simple.”
While the first season dramatised the gruesome Nirbhaya case, the second season fictionalises the Kacha Baniyan Gang murders that took place in the 80s. The show also explores the social repercussions of the case on the Denotified Tribe that the suspects of the case hail from. It adds to the complications, Shefali says.
“My character, Vartika, can evaluate evidence and she knows the procedural protocol, and yet, she feels a certain doubt in her gut.”
As she opens up about the character and the many conflicts she has to deal with, the actor gets quite emotional. “It was scary to step into her shoes. What happened with Vartika and the first season was unprecedented and unexpected. She grew larger than life. Now, how do I fit into those shoes again? According to me, that is the best work I have done so far, and I wasn’t sure how I would improve on that! How could I top that?”
Shafali asks, rhetorically. You understand her doubts, because when the show premiered in 2019, streaming content had just begun its tentative journey, and Delhi Crime provided a much-needed filip. Further validation came at the 48th International Emmy Awards with a Best Drama Series award.
“The second season has been treated differently; there’s a different creator, a new crew. I think that’s the beauty of it. The first season was terrific, and this second season, if judged for its own merits, will be terrific. I think any comparison would be unfair.”
Expanding further on the differences between both seasons, Shefali says, “The first season was more procedural although it was driven by emotions. There was a crime, and these characters had to solve it. Here, the characters get harnessed into the situation. Vartika was a hero in the first season, but here, she is a human and I love that.”