From acting to entrepreneurship, how Shefali Shah pursued her passion during the pandemic
“I have never been so busy in my entire career spanning over two decades than these two years,” says actor-turned entrepreneur Shefali Shah in a conversation with HerStory.
After playing the lead role in the award-winning and critically acclaimed Netflix series Delhi Crime, she has been shooting for an interesting lineup of projects, including Alia Bhatt’s ‘Darlings’, Junglee Pictures’ ‘Doctor G’, Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s web series ‘Human’ and ‘Delhi Crime’ season two.
But more importantly, she has marked her entrepreneurial debut with Ahmedabad-based experiential food centre Jalsa during the pandemic.
Shefali Shah at Jalsa
As she puts it – ‘Jalsa’ is a labour of love and passion, with every element – from decor and cutlery to recipe and presentation – personally supervised and often, personally executed!
Shefali brings with her an innate understanding of the artful and heart-warming aspects of the human experience to the world of dining and hospitality.
But why a restaurant business during the pandemic?
“These two years have taught people the importance of being together and oneness. And that is what we aim to bring with Jalsa. It just isn’t about food. It is about people wanting to step out and be together, do something with their family and friends, and Jalsa is a space for that,” says Shefali.
A complete foodie, Shefali is known to cook during her free time. “Like most, there were these cooking videos that took up most of my time. I simply wanted to bring my love for cooking, design, art, and food together,” she says.
“I was very particular about every single detailing and I wanted everything in a particular way only. So I hired an art director who helped me build each element. I did the paintings by myself because I wanted them in a certain way. I worked along with Neha Bassi, a hospitality professional with over two decades of experience in the space,” says Shefali.
She says she has been busy designing the interiors by herself - from hand painting some walls and cheese boards to creating an ambience people will love, to working closely with the chefs and sharing her own recipes to give an array of delicacies for every palate.
She says, “My belief is to celebrate life with an abundance of family, friends, food, fun, music, dance, and much more, and Jalsa is exactly that! True to its name, Jalsa serves all of the above and more. A quintessential Indian celebration with global design and food trends. The good times never end in Jalsa, and nor does the food.”
Shefali adds, Jalsa is a theme-based buffet restaurant and serves a mix of Indian dishes from various states and international fun dining. Jalsa is a carnival of food, fun, and togetherness. From Ferris wheels, astrologers, henna artists, funfair games, etc., Jalsa is not just a restaurant, it’s an experience of joy for everyone.
Speaking about how acting is different from entrepreneurship, Shefali says, “In acting, you are not responsible for everything and every delay. You do your part and it is done. But in entrepreneurship, it is like raising your baby - every single thing is on you and about you. From food, décor, and people, to get down and dirty, everything is on you and you automatically get involved. This is my first project, and maybe for the next ones I won’t be so involved, but in the first restaurant, everything has to be perfect.”
Advising all women entrepreneurs Shefali says, “Just do it! The worst that can happen is you will fail. But how would you know that without doing anything? So just get out there and do it. And no one is out there to judge you!"