'I'm an indie artiste with pop goals'

 

Im an indie artiste with pop goals

In a freewheeling interview, actress Richa Chadda talks about her 'alternate' roles - and views

By Khalid Mohamed

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Published: Thu 17 Jan 2019, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Jan 2019, 1:00 AM

She's been in the news constantly - for taking on daringly different roles as well as her frank posts on social media on subjects ranging from women's rights and the prevention of cruelty to animals to political inequities.
From the moment I'd seen her stealing the show in a supporting part in Dibakar Banerjee's quirky Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008), I could sense that Richa Chadda was here to stay. She had to go through the grind of auditions, stick it out as a paying guest with a pet cat for company in a suburban apartment, and wait for opportunities to knock on her door.
Currently, she's jet-hopping between cities in India and overseas, even as Shakeela, the biopic on the South Indian 'adult movie' actress, is being finessed for release. During a brief halt-over in Mumbai, I quizzed the feisty Richa Chadda on a shoal of topics. Excerpts:
You've been in Bollywood for a decade now. Being a Delhi girl, have you adapted to Mumbai?
With all its pros and cons, I'm at home in Mumbai now. Although I'd done Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, and you and I worked together on the stage play Kennedy Bridge in 2011, my career took off the next year with Gangs of Wasseypur. Hopefully, I've made a name for myself. I'm grateful. It's nothing short of a miracle to simply exist in an environment that clearly favours offsprings of film pedigree. That apart, I believe I've come into my own and have just begun to tap into my acting potential.
You've been acknowledged as an accomplished actor. But why aren't you still a part of the Bollywood mainstream - the big-budget glossies?
I am not, and that's not something which bothers me either. It's not a conscious choice, though. I suppose big-budget filmmakers think I don't want to be a part of their world, so they don't approach me. Perhaps that will change, perhaps not.
Which performance has been most creatively satisfying? And any role which is on your wish list?
Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan (2015) for sure. I really worked hard on the role of a young woman who craves independence from social orthodoxy. A lot of people didn't get my performance; they said, "You didn't act", which was very funny for me. It was a tough call and I had to integrate into the character without holding back. I also enjoyed my role in the web-television series Inside Edge (2017) - it was nuanced and complex. I can't wait for people to watch Season 2.
Did you have any apprehensions about Shakeela? How did you prepare for the role?
I gained about 8 kg for the role. I felt like a pug with rolls of fat on my back and arms. I wasn't apprehensive because I'd met her and knew her story. I think she lives feminism in her own way, while we study it in elite colleges. The only apprehension I have is that the film should do justice to her story and gets translated correctly.
Isn't it bound to be compared to The Dirty Picture (2011)?
If we can't fight that, so be it. In any case, it's a great comparison. Arguably, Vidya Balan's incarnation of Silk Smitha is her best work. The Dirty Picture also made money at the box office. However, the key difference here is Shakeela was pushed into her job by an ambitious mother, while Silk Smitha got into adult films on her own.
Do you think there is a change in the filmmaking scenario in Bollywood today?
With the advent of the digital format, there's more emphasis on the quality of writing. Last year indicated that the audience will buy tickets for films only worth their while. But we must work more on better incentives for the film industry, like more screens, lesser taxation. The one big negative is that we don't have solidarity among the film fraternity. We don't stand together, hence it becomes easy to bully us.
You used to do theatre frequently. Do you ever see yourself going back to stage?
I try and do one play every year. To think of theatre as something that is less than cinema is tacky. In fact, I'm just about to catch a flight to Assam to do a play with (actor) Adil Hussain. The theatre connect will always be there.
How important is marriage for you? Has your Fukrey colleague Ali Fazal ever popped the question?
I hate the access that our profession gives to people who keep asking me this question. I'm sorry but marriage is a very personal thing.
How effective has #MeToo been?
We have barely scratched the surface but I'm glad the industry has denounced serial predators like Alok Nath. The movement has raised awareness about creating a safe and healthy environment for women and men to work together. We are a long way from parity. The movement has instilled fear in a section of the film industry. If there had been no anxiety about job security, there would have been more outings.
Are you a dreamer or pragmatic?
I am a cautious optimist, an indie artiste with pop goals.
Any last words?
I think like former prime ministers would, the future will be kinder to me. So I'm kind to myself currently.
wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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