Nagesh Kukunoor's lately released film LAKSHMI is receiving praises from all corners thanks to its brutally heart-touching subject and striking performances from the star cast. While newbie Monali Thakur is winning everyone's heart for her brave portrayal of 14-year old victim, the highly talented Shefali Shah, who plays the brothel's madam Jyoti in the film, is back with yet another superlative act.
''LAKSHMI is not a film it's a movement which will be known by everybody, it's an awakening and a thought,'' says Shefali and adds, ''This film could have been expressed through a play or any other medium or the media could have exposed it. So, it's a privilege to express such important message and fact through a film like LAKSHMI. When Nagesh narrated me just the first line of the script, I was immediately game for it.''
Further ask about her role in the film and she says, ''My character is neither lovable nor will anyone hate it. It's not a conventional character which you've seen in the films in the past. She is a prostitute and doesn't bat an eye-lid. She emerges such a strong character.''
Where actresses prefer to meet the real sex-workers or visit the brothel to get the idea about their life before enacting such hard-hitting roles on-screen, Shefali did not visit the actual place or people for that matter. Shefali reveals, ''No I did not meet or interacted with any prostitute. Actually, Nagesh said that we will model the character in our own way. Jyoti, my character, was created by Nagesh. She is a normal human being with her heart in place. However, it's not a caricature. See, the basic physicality and body language remains the same, what differentiates is the layers of performance.''
Ask Shefali about working with Nagesh and she says, ''Nagesh is wonderful and extremely sorted. He is clear about his vision of what he wants. I think he is on a right track. We could give best to each other.''
While LAKSHMI is definitely going to leave a mark, did it touch or move Shefali in anyway? ''I felt lucky that I have a sheltered life. I felt privileged about the kind of life I am living. I feel sympathy for these girls,'' she says.
These days a lot of filmmakers are interested in telling women-oriented stories, so is it the order of the day? ''I don't know whether it is to be termed as women-oriented film or anything. All I know is, it is a story of victory and it should be told,'' states Shefali plainly.
Despite possessing oodles of talent, Shefali has been part of few but impressive projects like SATYA, MONSOON WEDDING, WAQT: THE RACE AGAINST TIME, GANDHI: MY FATHER, KARTHIK CALLING KARTHIK and others. Ask her about being choosy and Shefali replies, ''I only do roles or items which has something spectacular to offer. LAKSHMI kind of roles happens very rare. They come once in a year or two. It doesn't concern whether it's small or big or two minutes or two hour role. All it should be is impactful.''
But probe her if she misses SATYA kind of roles, which brought her into limelight and Shefali end it candidly, ''I don't miss SATYA. I think every role is special.''