Richa and famous

Richa Chadha played a small town girl in ‘Masaan’and a foul-mouthed pimpin‘Fukrey’. She tells Showtime her remarkable story, and how she got past the 'ugly bald men’ who tried to put her down

Richa Chadha is seated in a salon for her “monthly maintenance” as she speaks about her life in the movies.

“I pick up scripts that I think agree with me; sometimes I agree without much thought. That can be a mistake or a boost for my career,” she tells Showtime.

Though she began her career in 2008, it was in 2015 that she bagged a lead role in 'Masaan', a film that received a standing ovation at the Cannes film festival.

She feels a sense of accomplishment to know she is regarded as one of the flag-bearers of meaningful cinema in Bollywood.

“The audience has grown since 'Masaan' came out. You can no longer pass off rubbish as people have the luxury of watching good cinema in the comfort of their homes. Since their taste has changed, the industry is trying to keep up with it,” says Richa.

Her major breakthrough was the gangster saga 'Gangs of Wasseypur', directed by Anurag Kashyap.

It has not always been easy for Richa though. She went through several auditions and rejections before she made her mark in the industry.

“Any girl in her early 20s will have her own insecurities about her appearance. It’s the way we are conditioned to think. People told me I should have changed my teeth, nails or nose. I am glad that I didn’t listen to anyone,” she says.

And those advising her were mostly “ugly, middle-aged, bald men".

“Somehow men like that always assume they can tell a woman how she should look, what she should wear and what she ought to do with her life,” she says, laughing. 

Richa lives a normal life as her apartment block is home to others equally or more famous: stars, directors, producers and musicians.

“But I miss being able to stand on the road to have chai ki tapri and vada pav and those long walks on the beach in the rain. That’s why my alone time is always abroad where no one knows me,” says Richa.

She wonders why celebrities are busy on social media when they go on holidays. “Don’t check your phone; enjoy nature and explore the culture,” she advises. 

But that’s not her only problem with the industry. She’s not a fan of awards either. She’s grateful for the ones she’s received but doesn’t go after them. 

“I was quite excited when I got my first few but when I saw how it’s actually done, I stopped caring. I’ve seen bigshot actors sit backstage and threaten not to perform if they are not given awards. I’ve seen how categories like ‘Youth Icon’ or ‘Style Diva’ are created on the spot. What’s the point? It’s like giving candy to a kid,” she exclaims. 

The ecosystem tells actors that in order to be taken seriously, they have to throw tantrums, hire a PR team, and hang out with certain kinds of people. “I don’t think that’s a recipe for success,” she observes.

So what exactly is her secret? “It depends on what you define as success. If you think you want to have lots of money, then I ask how much is too much. If you want fame, I ask what kind of fame do you want? Criminals are famous too,” she says, again breaking into laughter.

Richa is proud she has made it on her own. “I didn’t have an affair that made headlines, a godfather in the industry, or a social media following because of a bikini picture. I’m here because of sheer talent,” she explains.

She attributes her success to picking the right films. “I worked with good filmmakers. I worked hard and make an impact with my voice,” she says, before getting back to a pedicure that sets her giggling. 

Curriculum vitae

Debut in 'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!' in 2008.
Rose to fame in Anurag Kashyap's 'Gangs of Wasseypur' (2012)
Played a supporting role in 'Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela' (2013).
Debut as lead in 'Masaan' (2015), which received a standing ovation at the Cannes film festival.
Bholi Punjaban in 'Fukrey' (2013) and 'Fukrey Returns' (2017) is her most popular role.
'Section 375' opposite Akshaye Khanna hits screens on September 13.
'Shakeela', biopic of south Indian actress Shakeela, is slated for release this year.
In 'Panga', Richa plays a kabaddi player along with Kangana Ranaut.
'Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai' has her as one of the politicians.
She’s also part of upcoming web series 'Inside Edge' on Amazon Prime Video. 

In Kannada
Starring Richa Chadda, Pankaj Tripathi and Rajeev Pillai, 'Shakeela' is directed by Indrajit Lankesh. The film is produced by Sammy's Magic Cinema and Yoddhas Entertainment. The film is slated to release later this year. 

Madhuri fan
The Delhiite always knew she wanted to become an actor, even as she studied Diploma in Social Communication Media from St. Stephen's College, Delhi. “I would spend hours watching Madhuri Dixit films. At the same time, my mother would make sure that I also watched movies by Shyam Benegal and films like Pakeezah,” Richa recalls. 

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