Chitrangda Singh serves up 'Cutting Chai' in OTT series 'Modern Love: Mumbai'

The actress spoke about her 'real' and 'relatable' love story in the six-part anthology.

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Enid Grace Parker

Published: Fri 20 May 2022, 10:49 AM

Last updated: Sat 21 May 2022, 4:18 PM

When we spoke to Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi actress Chitrangda Singh about her new role as aspiring novelist Latika in the anthology Modern Love: Mumbai, she commented how her character would be relatable to most women.

Chitrangda stars with Munnabhai M.B.B.S. actor Arshad Warsi in Cutting Chai, a tale revolving around a single day when Latika comes to a realization that her life is not panning out the way she had hoped it would, and that she’s not high up on her own list of priorities.

“I think a lot of women do this to themselves… they don’t realize how they just keep putting other people ahead of them,” she said.

Modern Love: Mumbai, streaming now on Amazon Prime Video, showcases six engaging stories of love and human connection in the bustling Indian city. It’s a chapter of the international franchise Modern Love, based on real-life personal essays from the popular New York Times column ‘Modern Love’.

Excerpts from our interview with Chitrangda:

Why Modern Love: Mumbai is special

Modern Love is special in the sense that it all comes from real stories, real people having written articles that got picked up from the New York Times. So it’s kind of a continuation of that. The stories that we have now for Mumbai are also very real; there are no page or plot twists, it’s not like someone has just created drama.

On her character Latika in Cutting Chai

Everything (in Modern Love: Mumbai) is very relatable and real… everyday life, you know? (There are) different aspects of love - self-love, a same-gender relationship…

Our film Cutting Chai is about a couple who is going through this one day (where) my character Latika is feeling like she has left herself behind somewhere, trying to keep other things working and everything moving in life, whether it’s kids, family, husband…

How Latika is relatable

I think a lot of women do this to themselves… they don’t realize how they just keep putting other people ahead of them. Then we let other people do the same thing to us.

So it’s one such day (where) suddenly, you snap, you know? You have regrets and you go over those regrets… Latika is doing this and by the end of that day, she reaches a point where she realizes that everything doesn’t have to be perfect (for her) to be happy.

It’s like that one painting which is crooked; you keep looking at it… and it’s still crooked! The painting’s beautiful but you’re just looking at whether it’s aligned or not…

And it (our story) comes together in such a simple moment, so beautifully written, very ordinary (there’s no majorly dramatic writing). There is this realization that Latika comes upon. This is why I think Cutting Chai is so special. It’s just so simple and beautiful.

On working with the talented Arshad Warsi

It was my first time (working) with him and the first time I met him, but it’s like, you see a close-up of how good his comic timing is. So even if no comedy is written on paper, it’s just how he says the dialogue, how he breaks the sentence; he just manages to bring that sense of humour and keep it light.

It’s amazing how effortless he is.

I had a ball, and besides the job, as an actor he was just so much fun on the set and I think we should pay him just for keeping us laughing!

On whether people are more receptive to ‘real’ love stories now

Absolutely, I think the audiences are so ready for real content. Mature content, which is not flaky, or selling a fairytale. It (Modern Love: Mumbai) is a reaction to what audiences are looking for. It’s their life. They want to watch stories that are about them.

What side of Mumbai Cutting Chai brings out

The name Cutting Chai itself is so Mumbai! There’s nowhere else that you’ll find cutting chai.

Mumbai is part of the texture of the film. This is where they are and this is where her love story started and then there is cutting chai, that kind of brought them together; towards the end, it’s back to something as simple as that which can bring them the same kind of joy.

What Mumbai means to her

Mumbai completed the dreams that I didn’t even think I had! I never planned on being an actor. Even for the first film that I did, the first few auditions were in Delhi. Then when filmmaker Sudhir (Mishra) called me from Mumbai it was for an audition that he wanted to take himself.

And that was my first time ever! So this place has kind of reintroduced me to myself and who I could be; it’s given me an identity - this is my ‘karam-bhoomi’.

I never imagined that Mumbai would be such an important part of my life.

On choosing impactful characters like Mary in OTT thriller Bob Biswas

It’s really important for every actor, however many scenes you may have.

If you have faith in the key people in the project, that’s when you know you are in good hands. I guess your performance leaving an impact also depends on these key people. It’s not just up to you.

On whether OTT has expanded opportunities for actors

Definitely. It’s like a breeding ground for talent, whether it’s actors, writers, directors… there are no formulas that you have to go by.

So there is so much innovation, and this is where all the creativity is actually happening.

There are such interesting faces (of actors) that are coming out of OTT platforms. As much as we feared it in the beginning, I feel this medium has been the biggest blessing.

On what the future holds

We’ve just finished shooting a film called Gaslight with Sara Ali Khan and Vikrant Massey. And I have a web series in the second half of the year.

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