It has been a busy time for Richa Chadda who has been working on her films and promoting them back-to-back. Her film Sarbjit has just released and the actress has been promoting it for over a month. This month also sees the release of her other film Cabaret.
Richa is one of the few actresses in the industry who has managed to strike a fine balance between mainstream and off-beat films and has garnered rave reviews for her performances throughout. She was there at the Cannes premier of Sarbjit and on her return she made time for this interview. The straight talking actress spoke at length about her journey in films so far, working with both big and small names, her approach towards her craft as an actor, her handling of rejections and more. Excerpts:
In a biopic what are the challenges of recreating a real life character?
I have played several real-life characters. This biopic is of course not centred around me, it tells the story of Sarbjit and I play his wife onscreen. I had a few things in mind while playing the character — first being the milieu of the story which is set in rural Punjab, then being a bahu in that scenario, ageing as the story progresses over many years and most importantly, understanding how it feels to be separated from one’s husband indefinitely.
This is the first time you shared the screen with Aishwarya. What was your equation with her like?
We shared a great working equation and she is an absolute delight to collaborate with. She is somebody I admire a lot because she has balanced her professional and personal life very well. She is a very good mother and it’s extremely difficult being a mother to a young child and also juggle a film in the same breath, because both roles are so demanding. Often people don’t realise that and they don’t give enough credit to working mothers. She was very nurturing and maternal towards me as well, and honestly, that was a pleasant surprise for me. Having said that, she never interfered in anything I would do, she was very graceful as a senior and even though she didn’t have to be so nice to me, she still was.
When you signed Cabaret, nobody expected you to join the Bhatt camp…
That’s exactly why it all fell into place. When the opportunity came by, I took it up as a challenge and did it for the pure love for dance.
Has it been difficult to hold the film’s weight on your shoulders?
See, the production value and aesthetic value are things makers are responsible for. And all films that I have worked on have been shouldered by the entire team. Maasan, for instance, was backed by Phantom and a French production and it went on to win several awards in festivals around the world. In the case of Cabaret, there is Pooja Bhatt, who has been an actor, producer and a director; she is the driving force behind the film and mentoring her is Mahesh Bhatt. I am there on the poster yes, but that’s because they cannot be on the poster.
Do box office numbers have an impact on you?
Box office numbers have an impact on every actor’s career. If a film is successful, things start to change in our careers. Yes, as a woman it is harder to be in the industry because the rules are very different for men and women. And also there’s no escaping that I am an outsider and not a star kid — and that’s the only thing I fear. I feel if I were born in the industry or in Mumbai, the attitude towards me would have been very different.
You auditioned for Dev D but Kalki Koechlin was selected for the role. How was that phase for you like?
It didn’t matter because the next week itself I got Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye. Of course nobody handles rejections well but fact is, it really doesn’t impact you in the long run.
Is it a conscious decision to keep your personal life under wraps?
It has not been a conscious decision but then I have not heard too many linkup talks about me. I have not been socially active because I don’t know too many people here. I am sure the minute I step out and start partying, things will change. It is not about dating an actor or a non-actor. I don’t have a problem dating anybody but my tastes are a bit different. I like people who are intelligent, sorted with their lives, successful and grounded. To me it doesn’t matter how rich they are or how good-looking they are.