Actress Shefali Shah is having her solo painting exhibition titled ‘Fire in Her Wings’ in the city. She tells us why she does not like to stay confined to any one medium of expression
Ask Shefali Shah what urged her to take up painting and she promptly says, “I have been an actor for as long as I can remember — from theatre, to television, to the big screen. I should have been satisfied with my resume of challenging roles and innumerable accolades, but it just didn’t seem enough. I didn’t want to be confined to any one medium of expression. Having used my body, my voice, my words, it felt like a natural yet compelling progression to explore the palette, knife and the brush. The canvas seemed to seduce me with infinite probabilities and possibilities.”
From acting in TV shows like Hasratein, Kabhie Kabhie, Banegi Apni Baat, Raahein, Naya Nukkad, Sea Hawks and so on, to winning hearts with her characters in films like Satya, Gandhi, My Father, Monsoon Wedding, Dil Dhadakne Do and several others — Shefali has made a name for herself in the field of acting. Now, she’s displaying her painting prowess at her solo exhibition titled ‘Fire in Her Wings’ at Monalisa Kalagram, Koregaon Park, Pune. Here’s chatting her up:
From theatre, to TV, cinema and painting — how would you describe your journey?
I guess, it was a natural progression. Theatre just happened naturally — the whole thing of me starting acting happened very incidentally. I was noticed and offered work on television and then people saw my work on television and offered me films. I figured that the kind of work I want to do in films — whether it is Satya, Monsoon Wedding, The Last Lear and so on — does not happen everyday.
Like acting, painting happened incidentally. To begin with, it was just a creative outlet for me and then later the more I did it, the more I enjoyed. I started reading and researching about the masters’ works and learning techniques from YouTube and later went to Spain to do a three-and-a-half month art course from Metafora and have been painting for the last two years. I didn’t know the worth of my work but some curators and gallerists thought my work was worth putting out there.
Tell us more about the subject of your paintings, the thought behind the title of your collection Fire in her Wings, and the medium you use in your work.
I am showcasing around 42 paintings. The title of the collection ‘Fire in Her Wings’ is something which is not just true for me but all women believe in it and have it in them. No matter what puts them down, she will rise again like the phoenix. So there’s this poem that I have written on this and it kind of summarises what Fire in Her Wings is all about — it’s flight. You constantly need fire to propel and fuel you, and it can come from anyone — a homemaker, or a mom, or a professional. For a creative person it can come from anywhere — be it acting or watching films, reading books, or writing something or painting.
Coming to my work, the medium that I use is acrylic and ink on canvas because I do not have the patience for oil as it takes very long to dry. The colour palette I usually use is red, white and black. There are very few works of mine that are in colour. I think red, white and black are the basic colours, and completely unadulterated.
What is your comment on the female characters portrayed in Bollywood?
I am really glad that the way female characters are portrayed in our films has changed and women are at par with men, portraying central characters as well. Whether it is Lipstick Under My Burkha, Pink, Piku or Tumhari Sullu, these women are real and at the same time, they are not someone you can ignore, so it is great to see that. Earlier, either you were the heroine or the heroine’s mother or friend and there was nothing more to it and the heroine would stand beautifully next to the hero or dance around trees. However, even back then, there were certain films like Guide, Mamta, etc which had really powerful female characters, but in between they were just portrayed as eye candies which is changing now.