Richa to act in Shakeela biopic

Bollywood actor Richa Chadda is known for playing bold characters but she’s not worried about being typecast

Richa Chadda has clearly carved a niche for herself with her work. Whether in comic role or a serious one, she usually prefers to essay a bold feminist character, sometimes pathbreaking even by Bollywood standards.

She’s now working on a biopic of Shakeela, a 1990’s Kerala actress who worked in several adult films in languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

The actress spoke to Anila Kurian about how she bagged the role.

What was your preparation for Shakeela like?
I met Shakeela several times to get an insight into her life, what she is like as a person and what she was working on in her life. I got to understand the problems she faced while working in the industry and personally. Director Indrajit Lankesh, the writer and associate director made sure that I got everything right to play her onscreen.

Shakeela is a well-recognised personality. What was the most challenging part of playing her?
She comes to mind when you study topics like feminism and liberalism in school, college or in a very intellectual setting. I found her phenomenon of stardom quite interesting, especially in all fourth South Indian states. So the only thing I was thinking of was, as a North Indian, how can I convey to the rest of the world who Shakeela was.

You’re known for playing bold characters. Do you ever feel that you might be typecast?
No, I don’t think I will be typecast. The only thing that irks me are questions like this because they ignore the versatility of the work that I have done. They ignore films like ‘Masaan’ and the potential I have at present.

You were in Bengaluru last month for the film’s shooting. Did you get to visit any of your favourite places?
You know, the time I was there, it was like the blinkers were on. I had a very busy schedule. I didn’t even get time to go out for a coffee or visit the parks there. In fact, Indrajit and I fell sick because of the food served at the sets. But the exciting part was that we shot all over the city. I’m glad I got the sense of Bengaluru, thanks to my work.

Tell us about a film that’s close to your heart and why?
It has to be ‘Masaan’. I was involved in it from the beginning, including the funding. I was there to see it take shape. I was there when we were waiting to find funding from international waters and was very moved that ‘Masaan’ got international acclaim. The highlight for me was when we got a five-minute standing ovation at Cannes.

Do you have a favourite from all the characters you’ve played?
I think the most versatile character for me is the one I am playing soon called Softie in ‘Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai’. It’s an ensemble cast but a very funny one. I’m excited for people to see a completely new side of me and glad that the comedy and a satire film will be releasing soon.

You’re dabbling in movies and web series at the same time. Which of the two do you enjoy the most?
Honestly, I enjoy acting. It doesn’t matter if it on stage, for a web show or in the movies. I’m happy as long as I get to express myself. Having said that, as far as the web series ‘Inside Edge’ is concerned, I am really happy and proud to be a part of it. It was after all India’s first original web series and it was the most watched show on Amazon Prime, worldwide. As an Indian and as someone who worked on it, I am extremely proud.

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Richa to act in Shakeela biopic

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