#BigInterview! Richa on being an outsider


She might come across as outspoken and opinionated, but there’s so much more to Richa Chadha than meets the eye. With some brilliant performances to her credit, she marches to her own beat. ETimes caught up with the actress for an exclusive interview where she spoke about her latest film, ‘Madam Chief Minister’ and wedding plans with Ali Fazal, among other things. Excerpts…
As someone who does not come from a filmi background, how easy or difficult has your journey been?
It was difficult and it still is. Sometimes we just get replaced at the last minute by someone who is a bigger star or someone who comes in because of a recommendation. However, things are getting better. It is amazing to see actors like Rajkummar Rao or even Ali Fazal reach where they are. I am not saying this just because he is my partner. When he started doing web series, people told him not to do it, and look at how the world has opened up for him. The fact that actors like Ali Fazal and Dimple Kapadia are doing Hollywood films, is really heartening. It doesn’t matter what family you belong to. You might take time to reach where you want to but you will definitely get there if you are talented.

What do you think of your career so far?
There have been ups and downs. I wouldn’t say that it has been perfect but I have played some amazing characters in a short period. ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ happened in 2012, and I have been able to carve a niche for myself in the past nine years. I have always wanted to be part of good and memorable stories and now that it is happening and I am getting such opportunities, I feel really fortunate.

Apart from acting, what do you enjoy doing?
I like painting, music, dance, and photography. If not an actor, I would have been a photojournalist. I would have been a part of the performing arts for sure. Most actors are also proficient in other arts. Like Ronit Roy, who I am currently shooting with, in Nainital. He plays the saxophone so well!

How do you deal with trolls and negativity on social media?
I really don’t care. People who troll and spread negativity are cowards; it usually doesn’t affect me. The only time I react is when I want to make an example out of someone or when I am stuck in a traffic jam.

Will you and Ali get married this year?
Hopefully, yes. Last year we made plans and it did not happen. So this year, hopefully, we will be able to actually get together and celebrate with our loved ones.

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How did you land ‘Madam Chief Minister’?
Director Subhash Kapoor saw one of my interviews and was quite impressed with it. I heard the script and liked it. In fact, it just took one narration for me to get on board.

And what was it about the script that made you take it up immediately?
I have been a part of some amazing and some not-so-amazing films in the past but never come across a script and a character like this one before. What attracted me to the script is how cool the character is! Madam Chief Minister has high self-respect and would rather choose death over something that would harm her self-respect. She is a tomboy, who sports short hair and rides a bike, she is a strong woman, a survivor, and a fighter.

Yes, she does seem feisty not unlike you. Did you relate to her?
When we read horrible things happening around us in the newspapers, it makes us angry. This woman is amongst those who have been oppressed for centuries and I could relate to that, partly. When you are denied your basic rights and discriminated against based on caste, it is really annoying.

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Preparing for such a role couldn’t have been easy…
It took a lot of prep work, both mentally and physically. I had to learn to ride a bike, cut my hair short, and decide what my look would be like. When you talk of a tomboy, people immediately think about Kajol from ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, who dressed up like the guys. But my character’s tomboyish traits were not acquired because it was cool; she was in denial about her gender because she wanted to survive and had to look like a boy to work in the fields.

Were you skeptical that it might trigger a political debate in the already tense political situation?
I did not expect it to cause this much controversy even before its release. I find it funny that people react even before watching a film. They just want to ban and boycott things. I am actually not that bothered right now. If people have decided to boycott a movie purely based on assumptions then I don’t know what to say to them.

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How was it working with Subhash Kapoor?
Extremely wonderful! He is a great director and an intellectual. I find all his films to be very intriguing. This, too, is a powerful film. I am really lucky that I got to headline a story such as this one.

What was the shoot like?
The film has been shot in and around Lucknow. Because of my look, people didn’t recognise me. In fact, because we had posters of a political campaign printed and put up on the sets and I was driving around on a tractor and working in the fields, people thought we were actually contesting an election. Some of them even came to me and started telling me their problems, hoping I was a leader who would help them.

Do you think that we, as a nation, have become quite insensitive and intolerant on the whole, especially when it comes to films?
I don’t know if people have become intolerant or it is just a way of getting more social media traction. Abusing and spreading negativity has become very easy now. If someone wants to criticise a film or write a piece about it or go to the court against it, they can but at least give it a chance to release first. At least that way people would know what they are opposing.

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