Richa Chadda's 'judgment' on Section 375

Richa Chaddas judgment on Section 375

Bollywood actress Richa Chadda who essays a lawyer in Section 375, out this weekend in the UAE, talks about what drew her to the movie and the toll it took on her

By Michael Gomes

Published: Wed 11 Sep 2019, 11:02 AM

Last updated: Sat 21 Sep 2019, 7:45 PM

Richa Chadda, will not take up a role unless the script is engaging enough and inspires her. Section 375, in which she plays a public prosecutor seeking justice for a rape victim, ticked all of those boxes for her. We speak to the talented star to know more about her role in Section 375.

What made you sign up for Section 375?
Actually, the movie chose me. They (filmmakers) called me and I liked the script. It was written by Manish Gupta. I found the story to be thoroughly engaging. Moreover, it was about a controversial case in the film industry, so that's what attracted me to the movie. The story also deals with the #MeToo movement, so I did some research on the subject, then once Ajay Bahl (director) came on board, the film evolved into something very fine and nuanced.
You  have been very vocal about the #MeToo movement. Since this movie tackles sexual harrasment, will the movie be able to change people's perceptions in any way?
It's not only about changing perceptions. One has to understand that exploitation in any field, whether it's the film industry, educational institutions, judiciary, hospitality, medicine or any other field... if half the workforce doesn't feel safe in their jobs, then we have a major problem on our hands. We need to create a safe working environment, we need to feel safe stepping out of the house. Women too have the power to drive the economy and the country forward, so I feel it is very essential (to provide a safe environment). I will always fight for the truth, but that doesn't mean that there is a blanket rule that we can accuse people (of sexual harassment) without proof.

You are known for playing tough characters, how was it playing a lawyer in Section 375?
Playing characters like Nagma Khatoon (in Gangs of Wasseypur) and a tough-talking don (in Fukrey) required a certain amount of aggression, and I had to do justice to my characters in those movies. But in Section 375, I had to underplay my role. I had to become a believable lawyer. I had to become a lawyer who could convince the judge. Somebody who is idealistic and stands for what's right. I had to do a lot of research for the role with the director, and we have managed to pull it off.

Tell us about those challenging roles, you must be comfortable playing such characters by now?
Challenging parts take a lot out of you, but at the same time, I just think that I want to be a part of memorable films. I want my work to outlive me. It's not always about making box office hits, it's about what you create. Sometimes I am very selective and don't take up a project that doesn't inspire me, I may not sign movies that don't work (for me).

How was it working with Akshaye Khanna? Was he easy to communicate with as he's known to be a reticent person?
I don't think he is a reserved person, it's just his personality. He may not be an extrovert, but he talks freely with you if you happen to share common interests with him. I have to emphasise that he's a fantastic actor and I had fun working with him. He is a very generous person and I learnt a lot by watching him (on set). He has done a fabulous job in this film and I think it's perhaps his career-best performance to date.

We read that while filming a court scene in the film, you got so carried away with the role that you broke down, and the unit had to take a break so that you could compose yourself. Are you an emotional person?
It happened while I was filming a (court) scene. A part of the dialogue moved me, and I just couldn't hold back and broke down. Akshaye and Bahl (director) were nice and they suggested we take a break to help me recompose. People forget that acting is hard, you can't do it mechanically, you have to dive deep into yourself and come up with the emotions that you have to portray. I am a very emotional and sensitive person. I have terrific intuitions, and as an actor, you have to use all these inherent qualities. But sometimes, you can't control it.
Suppose I bring my emotions to a boil for a scene and that scene goes on for 3 hours, it is possible that at the end of it or during those 3 hours I might burst into tears or have a breakdown.

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