Actor Shefali Shah, who has made her directorial debut with the pandemic-themed short film "Someday, says she wanted to become a filmmaker for the longest time but was not sure whether she could shoulder the responsibility. The "Delhi Crime" star said the coronavirus-led lockdown gave her the scope to write and also be confident of her craft.
"Wanting to become a director was brewing in my head. For the longest time, I've wanted to direct but I wasn't sure if I had it in me to take the responsibility of a film on my shoulders. There's a lot of hard work -- blood, sweat, time and money of so many people. So, I wasn't sure if I could take that responsibility," Shah, 48, told PTI.
"Someday" chronicles the story of two women, a frontline worker who returns home to quarantine for seven days, and her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's.
"I wrote this film and thought I just wanted to do it. As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I shot the film with a crew of five people at my house. We shot the film in two days and on both days I packed up early."
Shah said the film puts the spotlight on how the virus forced people to isolate themselves, resulting not only in physical distance but also emotional longing.
"During the lockdown, one of the things that really bothered me was that if not the disease, the distance will kill you. 'Someday' is about that. Just the distance from people you love, not being able to see them, meet them, hug them or hold them. Going through a phase of life when you're suddenly isolated."
The pandemic was a springboard for Shah to deep dive into her childhood and revisit memories, which formed the emotional core of "Someday".
She mined her memory of watching her mother turn caregiver to her grandmother, who had slipped into Alzheimer's.
Shah poured the struggle to hold on to fading memories and the crushing helplessness of it on paper for "Someday".
"The story comes from real life, from the memories that I have with my mom while I was growing up. (I thought) If we reached a point where we did not have those memories to share, then what would it be like? It's scary.
"Becoming a mother to your mom, there's a role reversal. My grandmother went into Alzheimer's and dementia, I remember how my mom took care of her. So the story comes from real life, it isn't fiction."
The actor-filmmaker said her attempt with the short film was to document how painful the mental distance between two loved ones can be in the middle of a pandemic.
"I thought our life is based on memories we have created and we revisit them, creating more moments. But what happens when you may have a past, you may have a future but you have no present to tie it up?
"In this film, it just isn't about the physical distance but also the mental distance because every day it's like you're talking to a stranger."
"Someday" will be screened at the upcoming 18th edition of the Indian Film Festival Stuttgart.
For Shah, getting her short approved for the festival screening still feels unreal. The actor said it is yet to sink in that something she directed, after battling countless doubts, will be out for the world to see.
"The reason I wanted to send it to festivals was not that I had these illusions that I would win but I wanted to see where I stood as a director... if I have even some kind of standing or credibility to what I was doing.
"It was for testing myself. When it gets accepted to be screened, it feels I must've done something right," she added.