Interview: Shefali Shah On Donning The Director’s Hat With Happy Birthday Mummy Ji

Feminist short films, Shefali Shah on Mother In Law, Shefali Shah Motherhood, Shefali Shah directional debut ,Interview Shefali Shah
Interview Shefali Shah: The actor who first won our hearts as Ria Verma, calling out her paedophile uncle in Monsoon Wedding has come a long way. She will soon be making her debut as a director and a writer as well.

Shefali Shah is all set for the release of her first short film as a director and writer with Happy Birthday Mummy Ji. Ahead of the release of she caught up with SheThePeople to talk about the film, women’s complicated relationship with their mother-in-law and why being a homemaker is a relentless task.

 On Taking up direction

So, does an actor have an advantage when she/he dons the mantle of a director? Shah says, “I don’t think there are advantages there are only challenges as a director. It’s new learning. It’s a new beginning and it’s a chance, a gamble you play. You don’t know whether it’s going to work. And you know, you cannot hide behind. Like as an actor, you can still get a review saying that you know, the film didn’t do very well, but XYZ actor did a good job. You can’t hide behind that when you’re a director.”

  If the film doesn’t work, nothing works. It is a huge, huge responsibility: Shefali Shah on turning into a director.

 Happy Birthday Mummy Ji is a short film which narrates the tale of a woman caught up in the routine of life, duties responsibilities and relationships and is set for release on 23rd July 2021. In a recent post on her film, Shah spoke about “letting go” and why “making someone happy the only way to be happy?”

You can Watch our conversation with the actor here:

Why is “letting go” so difficult for women?

Talking more about this, she said, “I think it’s conditioning. I think it’s situational. It’s society. A lot of women don’t have much of an option. And then some women who do have an option choose to don the hat of being a mom, a wife or daughter-in-law, a homemaker, and proudly so. I’m one of them. I wanted all of this. These are choices I have made. I want to run my house impeccably. I want to run the lives of everyone. I want to make sure that everyone is having the right medicine at the right time. What is being cooked at home, no matter where I am in the world. Or has the washing machine been repaired?”

So, why is letting go so difficult, Shah responds, “Now my family doesn’t know what else to expect out of me because I raised the bar. And now if I turn around and say I don’t want to do it, they’re like what happened to her, you know? So, a lot of us bring this up. And of course, some women don’t have an option. And I believe being a homemaker is the toughest job in the world. It doesn’t have an instruction manual.” 

 Being a homemaker

On being a homemaker Shah says, “It has no leaves, no holidays, no pay, no excuses. And you can never match up to expectations. It’s just relentless and it’s never-ending. So, I just see some don’t have choices. And even if it’s about your family, what happens is a lot of women get recognised by the relationships that they have. A lot of people, not just women, either. Men get recognised by their relationships too, but he is his own person. And the same goes for women. She’s her own person. And sometimes we ourselves forget to recognise.”

As a daughter, the understanding that your parent has towards you, your thoughts, your mistakes, your achievements are always going to be much more than what your mother-in-law will have for you.” 

Relationship with Mummyji

Why is the relationship that a woman shares with her “Mummyji” always so complicated? The Delhi Crime actor says, “It’s complicated because, no matter how close you are, you can’t merge that boundary between a mom and a mom-in-law. You could have a great relationship. But as a daughter, I can say what I want to do. My mom won’t take it badly and vis versa. However, as a daughter-in-law, things change. As a daughter, the understanding that your parent has towards you, your thoughts, your mistakes, your achievements are always going to be much more than what your mother-in-law will have for you.” 

Shah further adds, “You could be very close and you could have the best relationship. But, I’m amazed when people say, you know, my mom-in-law is my mom. I think differently. My mom-in-law is my mom-in-law. I love her in my own way. I respect her tremendously but for me, my mom is my mom and my mother-in-law is my mother-in-law.”


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