It is not possible to watch Gangs of Wasseypur (GOW) without rooting for the foul-mouthed Nagma Khatoon or Masaan without empathising with Devi Pathak who has to deal with the stigma of pre-marital sex in a small town. Ever since she made her debut in Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! in 2008, the audience has always expected a lot from Richa Chadha who essayed the above-mentioned roles on screen.
While portraying such impactful characters has its positives, Richa believes that when you start your career with movies such as GOW and Fukrey, people do tend to bracket you. In her case, she is often associated with terms such as ‘bold’ and as someone ‘who speaks her mind’. “Honestly, I’m just sick of the press and I feel there is a lack of imagination in how they describe people in general. They say things like ‘girl next door’ or ‘de-glam’ or ‘saucy’. I’m not affected by all that anymore. I just find it dull,” she adds.
For someone who started her career with the cult film GOW and has proved herself time and again in films such as Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Tamanchey, Masaan, Sarbjit, Love Sonia and Panga, does she feel she has made full use of her potential?
“All actors have a tendency to beat themselves up about how they could have worked harder but I will say this — the film industry has not really used my potential. There are nine rasas in acting. Maybe they have seen one or two and exploited them to the maximum. That’s what industries across the world tend to do. It becomes visually easier to adapt an actor into something they have already seen. Very few have the imagination to fit people into different parts,” she says.
So, is there a rasa that she would like to explore more? “I do think I have knack for comedy,” she admits. The actress who explored this side of hers performing stand up in the show One Mic Stand will be seen in Anubhav Sinha’s black comedy Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai.
The truth about criticism
One of the criticisms that came her way post movies such as Shakeela and the more recent Madam Chief Minister is that things haven’t gone her way when she has tried to do lead roles, as compared to when she did even peripheral ones. “I don’t think I wasn’t the lead in GOW or I that wasn’t the lead in Fukrey or Masaan,” Richa points out. “I find it disheartening that journalists in India continue to bracket actors that way even when they write lengthy pieces on nepotism and know how hard it is to make it in the industry while sticking to your political beliefs,” she says, adding that this is the reason she does not read film reviews. “Well-meaning people with their limited understanding of how the film industry operates write all kind of things. I don’t want them to get inside my head,” she states.
In recent times, there has been a lot of debate on the job of a film critic and when film criticism crosses the line to trolling. Richa, on her part, believes that a film critic or reviewer is well within their rights to criticise actors and their work. “However, I have come across this wannabe Perez Hilton-style of writing, which has been derived from the west,” she says, adding that she recently saw a review of a film that read more like a roast. “It’s one thing to write a roast review of, say a pulp movie like Gunda, but another to attempt to compare everything that happens here to stuff that happens in the west,” she says, adding that a critical review, if done right, is actually a very beneficial thing for any actor.
“A good critic’s bad review can help the performer improve their craft. However, we have such few good and solid critics and a plethora of Instagram reviewers, which is just ridiculous,”she rues.
In the producer’s chair
Richa, who recently shot the teaser of her and boyfriend Ali Fazal’s first home production, Girls Will Be Girls, has her priorities pat down when it comes to who they want to work with. Just because they both are outsiders, does not mean that they will only work with those who are not from the industry. “I want to take the best actor for the job without putting so many filters,” she says, sharing that the idea is to find new incredible talent and democratise the system. “However, it’s not like Ali and I are now going to launch 50 new faces like rockets into space. That’s not what we are trying to do. We are trying to tell stories and whoever is best for the part will get the part,” she points out.
As for herself, she wants to stick to acting, producing and writing. “I don’t see myself directing. I think it’s a lot of work and I am quite a restless person,” shares the actress. On the work front, Richa has Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, Inside Edge season 3 and Candy in her kitty. She is currently filming Tigmanshu Dhulia’s web series, Six Suspects, with Pratik Gandhi, and will resume shooting for Fukrey 3 soon.
On the personal front, Richa has no plans of getting married anytime soon to Ali with whom she moved in last year. “We are so happy living with each other that the thought hasn’t crossed our minds. Planning a wedding is very much like planning a film shoot and if you look around, there are very few films being shot in India. It’s not very responsible to do a destination wedding at this point either. So, we will just wait for things to get better,” she signs off.
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