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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Richa Chadha: ‘I’ve got negative reviews even for Masaan, sometimes you’re declared as finished’

Richa Chadha spoke about entering the digital space at the right time, the backlash she faced for playing diverse characters and her new production house Pushing Buttons Studios, which she started with her real-life partner and actor Ali Fazal.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
September 23, 2021 6:23:17 pm
richa chadha photosRicha Chadha was last seen in Voot Select web series Candy. (Photo: Instagram/therichachadha)

Richa Chadha pivoted towards the digital space when the new medium was still finding its feet in India. She says she was also cautioned against it, told that it was a step back. “That time I was told it’s going to be your demotion, as who goes to web after doing films. And now look at how things have turned out,” Richa said. The actor was among the first Bollywood stars to turn heads on the OTT with Amazon Prime Video’s Inside Edge (2017), which is now gearing up for its this season soon.

Four years down the line, Richa is a regular across mediums with diverse projects and characters. “What’s interesting in a web show is that the character gets to grow with you. Like in Inside Edge there were some people who said they wished all the characters got more breathing space. So it is possible to spend more time to develop the character, which I really enjoy,” Richa told indianexpress.com.

Richa’s latest release, also a web show titled Candy on Voot Select has her playing a no-nonsense cop. She called her character Ratna Sankhwar, ‘a layered woman’. “She has a past, she’s been suspended,. She’s a single mom of a special child. She isn’t trying to ruffle any feathers. She just wants to survive. I was trying to look at it in terms of actual people who work in the forces and how hard their lives are,” the actor spoke about playing the part.

From going super glamorous in Cabaret and Shakeela to absolutely de-glam in Masaan, Sarbjit and Love Sonia, the spectrum of Richa Chadha‘s roles are noteworthy. But the actor says it hasn’t been a cakewalk due to varied reactions coming her way from all sections of the audience.

“I’ve got negative reviews even for Masaan and then I’ve got a positive review for films where I don’t expect anything to be written about my character. Sometimes the reviews are so good that you might start thinking that you are Meryl Streep, and sometimes they are so bad that you just want to quit acting all together. So I don’t really bother about the reactions. And I’m not saying that from a cocky space. I genuinely feel, if you start giving in, it becomes very difficult,” she shared.

Further adding, Richa said, “A lot of reviewers don’t have a training in film appreciation, they aren’t writers who know about cinema. Sometimes they do personal attack and write mean things which are not constructive. I would love to read a negative review where someone says I need to work on my voice or body language. But that rarely happens. Mostly, they try to get online thread by dissing an actor. Sometimes they’ll declare you are ‘finished’, and the next they’ll write how nepotism is killing the industry and real talent.”

richa chadha angad bedi inside edge Richa Chadha plays Zarina Malika, an actor and owner of a T20 cricket franchise, Mumbai Mavericks.

Does that mean her new production house Pushing Buttons Studios, which she set-up with beau Ali Fazal will ensure she backs stories and characters she believes in, considering she has restrictions when she’s just an actor on a project? She shared that the banner will help her control various aspects of production, including supporting budgetary films.

“I would like to have more creative control. Sometimes scripts have great potential but then people might point out at loopholes. There are many things that go into making a film, a success, which has nothing to do with filmmaking – how it is distributed, the release window, which OTT buys it, anticipation around it. And sometimes you might not get a fees which you deserve on a project, but if you take the Executive Producer credit or production credit, you get profit share.”

Looking back at the characters that she’s portrayed on screen so far, Richa refused to pick one which she’d probably wish to redo if given a chance. According to her it is a “constant battle in an actor’s mind” where he or she won’t wish to watch the work they’ve done. “We may have shot a film in December, and by March we feel like a new person due to a spiritual or intellectual growth. Whatever change happened in your life will impact your work and how you approach your characters. For that reason, it is a futile exercise because there’s no end to it. That’s why a lot of time, actors prefer theatre. Every show is a new opportunity there.”

fukrey returns richa chadha varun sharma Richa Chadha and Varun Sharma in a still from Fukrey Returns (2017).

Richa confessed that she hates when people ask her to draw parallels with the characters she plays. “When someone asks me whether I’m like, say Zarina or Bholi Punjaban, I find it a ridiculous question. Zarina is a complicated and insecure person, and very ambitious. Also, I’m not a gangster like Bholi Punjaban! But it’s just a testament of the believability of your work.”

What about reprising Zarina in Inside Edge 3, which is expected to release in the coming months? “I’m grateful to the creators who wrote the part for me. Things have developed in a very interesting way,” she hinted.

Richa is also gearing up for Fukrey 3, where she will return as Bholi Punjaban. “Fukrey cast has always been fun. In fact it is one of the few crews where I’ve just made friends,” Richa said, adding how she’d wish to do an interesting collaboration with Ali Fazal, since they don’t have many scenes in Fukrey. “Most of my work there is with Choocha (Varun Sharma). So I don’t look at it as a film where I got to work with Ali. I think we should do something really cool and interesting on our own together. He’s a phenomenal actor. He’s blossoming into his own now. I feel great seeing him.”

richa chadha ali fazal photos Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal had plans of tying the knot in 2020. (Photo: Express Archives)

Richa and Ali had to call off their wedding plans due to the Covid induced lockdown last year. She revealed the two haven’t been able to plan anything as yet, also given the fact that their families don’t live in Mumbai.

“Unfortunately both of us aren’t from Mumbai and we’ve not had this discussion at home too. Also there are date issues right now so we don’t know when to do it. I definitely want to do a fun celebration but every time we try to plan something, a lockdown is announced or something happens, which is irritating,” Richa said.

Richa made her film debut with 2008 film Oye Lucky Lucky Oye. Over a decade on, she has also been part of hit movies like Gangs of Wasseypur, Section 375 and Panga. The actor, however refused to be called “an integral part of Bollywood”. She said, “Infact now I don’t have that aspiration too.”

She did speak about the change that she’s seen in the film industry all these years. “I feel very happy seeing the kind of content being created. It’s what we wanted to begin with and support when we were starting off. Now it’s being made, liked and accepted. Also, a lot of people have stopped saying “iska kuch nahi hoga (nothing good will happen to her).” Today, nobody can predict what would happen. That’s the key change which I see today,” she concluded.

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