Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar

She may seem badass and well, she is! But the endearing thing about Richa Chadda is her innocence coupled with that ‘bindaas, badass’ quality. That combination is sort of rare. She speaks her heart out, gets excited about these little things. Some memorable roles later, she is happy, but continues to dream about doing things differently. As of now though, the ‘Masaan’ actor is extremely excited about getting to doll up for her role in ‘3 Storeys’.  She sips on some coffee while we settle down to talk about this latest release and lots more! Excerpts:

‘Fukrey Returns’ with Excel Entertainment and being Bholi Punjaban; now taking that association forward with ‘3 Storeys’ must have been quite nice…
She’s the exact opposite of Bholi Punjaban which is so good. She is very feminine, loves dolling up, wearing that flower, payal and that’s who she is. There are three stories in the film and she is very involved in all of them. She has a good equation with everyone involved. This is like three different stories on three different floors and she lives on the ground floor. So she knows everything. It’s very interesting, it’s like a thriller!

Clearly, it has a lot of emotional element and mystery attached then…
Yes and major mystery. There’s a murder, a robbery, someone beating up his wife and so much happening in this film. It’s interesting.

What’s your reaction to the success of ‘Fukrey Returns’?
People loved the film and I’m most happy about the 100-crore club entry because I really wanted the film to do well commercially. I don’t normally care about that, but I don’t know why, I wanted it this time. It’s good if a film does well at the box-office but if it breaks records and is one of the most profitable films of the year, I’m super happy about it.

How important is also a film like this as an actor?
You know, this is the first time I’m playing a desirable woman. Every other time if I’ve been desirable then it’s by default. Like in ‘Gangs OfWasseypur’, I was married off when I was a teenager. In ‘Fukrey’, perhaps the character was liked by people have this fetish for women in authority. This is the first time I’m playing a proper, desirable woman. Literally, for the first few days, all I did was look pretty and smile. And someone was telling me, ‘see this is what the other girls usually do. See, it’s fun!’ I said, yes it’s a lot of fun. There was not much pressure to do dialogues and stuff, so I had a lot of fun really! I had fun being a chhamiya.

But in a way, is the tone of this film something that falls into your comfort zone?
I find ways to be comfortable, even if it’s a set-up which I’m not used to. Because I like to be comfortable.

So, is there a film where you weren’t comfortable initially, but found a way out, eventually?
I felt like that during ‘Ram-leela’, because I had just done ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and I had auditioned for it before ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’ had released. Before ‘Ram-leela’, I was just not used to so many actors, such big locations, set-up, the shift being long and people taking 5-6 hours to light a frame and all. I felt that way with ‘Ram-leela’.

But you came out of ‘Ram-leela’ so beautifully!
I did! The crew, the cast, everyone fell in love with me. I had a blast shooting that film. I became so friendly with Mr. Bhansali also, I have the utmost respect for him. I got really easy with it and he loved my performance in it. So much so, Bachchan Saab had sent me a bouquet of flowers and a note during ‘Ram-leela’. I never thought of publicising it then, because I thought it was very personal. But it was really nice. It was very well-received I think.

Even after that, you have come a long way, haven’t you?
That was just the beginning. See, it’s really difficult here. It’s uphill. First, you’re in a minority because you are in woman, then you are in a minority because you are an outsider, then you are in extreme minority because you will only do a particular kind of film or films that you are interested in. And in the end, you are in the minority because you are not going to sleep with anyone. So, these four things, it’s like adding a filter when you are booking a hotel or a flight. Your options get restricted. So I am very grateful that despite having all these filters, I have managed to do this with my life. I am very proud of films like ‘Masaan’, ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’, ‘Fukrey’ and even my debut film like ‘Oye Lucky LuckyOye’, where I had a fleeting role. I did it when I was 20 years old. I am very proud of all these things because it has taken me a lot to get here and it’s not easy. There are days when I’ve woken up depressed when you’ve auditioned for a part and haven’t got it because of some silly reason. So, you have those days where you question your life or my ability to blend in, fit in. Earlier I used to think, why aren’t people accepting me for who I am but then I realised that trying to fit a hexogen in a square – that’s not going to happen. I have many more dimensions, interests and I need to do justice to all my talent. For example, three-four days ago, I suddenly got funds to make a short film and Ali helped me put it together in 48 hours. I produced it, I wrote on the flight back from Delhi. All my actors came for free to help me –Satyajeet Dubey, Ali, Adar Malik, Vishaskha and I directed it. I have all these other interests, so I definitely want to be producing content, I definitely want to work with women that I like, capable actresses that one doesn’t see that often – like Divya Dutta, Achint Kaur and many more. Would love to do amazing work with them. I produced a film last year and this short film was by default. There will be many who might criticise it because I’ve expressed an opinion in it. But it was fun to do because I was on the other side.

So, rather than fitting into a mould, you’ve created your own, is it?
I try to be authentic. It’s taxing to pretend all the time. I know of actors who do it and it’s taxing to not be yourself or take it all too seriously. It’s taxing to pretend all the time. There’s this actress I know. She is many years my senior in school or college. Her whole life is about appearing young and attractive. She is close to 40, and fully surgical. When I look at her, I just worry about her. I don’t feel jealous, I just worry because it’s so much manufactured reality all over around you. And you can’t be taking selfies all the time or approaching film-makers saying cast me as a teenager. So, it just feels retarded. I want to have a happy life. I want to have a productive life. I want to have a life where I can contribute whatever I can – by way of thinking. There were artists who died unrecognised and they changed art. They created something. Maybe people don’t see worth in what I do, but they will, at some stage.

I believe there is a section who appreciates that…
Definitely and I feel grateful for that. Paying your bills by being an artist is a great. It’s nice that actors with vision are now being accepted. When I did ‘Inside Edge’ also, many people told me, why are you doing a web-series? But as of 2017, it’s the most watched series on Amazon. So people who told me not to do it were close-minded people but I am a visionary. I will go ahead and do all the new things that come. Trade Magazine