As I sat with a few friends watching the much talked about film “Sarbjit”, I realized how Richa Chadda who plays Sarbjit’s wife in the film kept growing as an actress of a very high calibre. Her eyes spoke much more than the dialogue she had to speak in the film.

Her body language as a young woman going through a miserable time when her husband suddenly goes missing and is found as a prisoner held by the Pakistani police for infiltrating the border, her reactions to every circumstance involved with her husband and her dealing with the unexpected situation was an experience in witnessing what an actress who is determined to prove how good she can be when challenged with a good and meaningful role. She rises to new highs and beats many of the ruling actresses during her emotionally-charged scenes when she knows that her husband has died in the prison across the border. This is undoubtedly one of the best performances an actress of today has come up with and all credit to Richa for understanding her role and living up to it.

It was while watching Richa growing richer as an actress that I realized how an actress could grow if she had the will to. Richa started off in a film which had no future and she could not expect anything from it, but she was made of sterner stuff and kept fighting her own battle to be recognised as an actress who could not be taken for granted for long. She found the right film to let all those who were interested in talent know that she had the potential to be a woman with the kind of power very few women have been seen on screen as.

The film that changed the course of her career was Anurag Kashyap’s “Gangs of Wasseypur”. It was an eye-opener to see a young woman living the kind of life she was forced by circumstances to live in, a woman who had to put up a brave fight to stay alive on her terms, including the coarse and foul language she had to use and she used with the kind of aplomb and ease no actress has been heard speaking ever since Seema Biswas played Phoolan Devi in Shekhar Kapur’s “Bandit Queen”.

Richa did some other films which almost put her in the class of the actresses who can go to any extents and expose their bodies and reveal their minds about various problems dealing with sex in real life. She played those characters as a part of her growing up. The roles she played came to her naturally and she played them to the hilt.

But if there was one film which took her to new heights as a performer, it was “Masaan”. It was the film which brought out the real talent in Richa as she brought life to every scene she was asked to perform, from the opening scene when she is caught by the police having casual sex to the end when she emerges as a naari with the real shakti. She had the opportunity to walk the Red Carpet at the Cannes Film Festival where “Masaan” received a standing ovation and even won two major awards.

Life as an actress has changed for Richa especially after “Gangs of Wasseypur” and “Masaan”. And now with her brilliant performance in “Sarbjit” in which she had to face formidable star-actors like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and the ever so under- estimated Randeep Hooda, Richa has made her intentions very clear. It is going to only be a richer Richa growing richer with every role and if she continues to grow as rich as she wants to be, she may be the kind of actress India and especially Hindi films needs.

One can never say anything about talent; one can never say when talent can take new and unprecedented strides. And if there is one actress who is going all out to prove this truth about talent, it is Richa Chadda. She deserves attention and for attention, she deserves better films and better roles and directors who can explore, discover and expose the talent she is so abundantly blessed with.

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