Babu is not a likeable character but the challenge is to make the audience like her – Richa Chadda
She is known for her unique filmography and enviable choice of roles ranging from Nagma Khatoon in Gangs of Wasseypur to Bholi Punjaban in Fukrey. In an exclusive chat with Pandolin, actress Richa Chadda talks about her acting journey and her upcoming film Tamanchey.
Coming from a non-film background, how easy/challenging was it to get a break in Bollywood?
To get a break was easy because I got a small part in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, through an audition. It is after the break that it becomes difficult because that is when you start expecting; you want better roles and always want to work with good directors, that is the tough part. The business itself is very tough and everyone knows that.
Having done theatre before Bollywood, how has that influenced your acting career?
I wouldn’t qualify myself and say that I have done a lot of theatre because people who do theatre seriously give it 10-12 years of their life. I did theatre alongside my education and while doing other small projects. But yes, whatever little theatre I did, really helped me become a better actor. It gave me presence of mind, confidence, a lot of ability to think on my feet and the discipline that an actor should have. That is why I go back to it whenever I get a chance.
From Dolly to Nagma Khatoon, Bholi Punjaban and now even Babu, you have always chosen unconventional roles. What has prompted this choice of roles?
People who write unconventional roles come to me because they think that I won’t be afraid to do it. Like with Gangs of Wasseypur, a lot of accomplished actresses had turned down the part, as they were afraid to portray an ageing person. I didn’t have any such insecurity. I was barely 22-23 years old and wasn’t worried that people would see me as an old person; I knew I would have enough time to get over that perception. It is difficult to take up unconventional roles but what is more challenging is that the audience then start expecting you to always do something different. That responsibility of entertaining them and living up to their expectation is a lot.
Coming to Tamanchey, how did the role of Babu happen to you? What was the director brief to you?
I signed the film about three years ago. We shot for this one, after I finished Gangs of Wassyepur. It is a fun film with an interesting script, a love story where the female character is very strong. Tamanchey is very pulp, in a 90’s kind of way but it has modern sensibilities so it is all neon and Tarantino-kind, which was what I enjoyed the most.
Navneet told me that this character is not a likeable one but the challenge is to make the audience like her and make them fall in love with her, like the guy in the film does. He also said that it’s a Delhi girl yet again but had to be played with a little distinction. It was very challenging because it is easy to play a likeable character, being dainty and delicate and getting people to fall in love with you. But playing such a character is definitely difficult.
What is the kind of research and preparation that went into the character of Babu – since you have done some action scenes, did you undergo any special training?
I am trained in Kalaripayattu so it is not difficult for me to do action scenes but it was challenging action. We also did a lot of readings and workshops with the team, the direction department and so on. So by the time you reach the sets, you are so prepared that you can do the same scene in three takes instead of four.
Would we see you playing a soft-spoken, girl-next-door or song and dance kind of role? What factors do you consider before selecting a film?
When it comes to me, I would surely do such roles as well. I’m currently working on Sudhir Mishra’s Aur Devdas and the role I play is pretty much like this. In that sense it is more conventional than the other things I’ve done. And there are some other films that I’ve done where I play soft spoken and vulnerable parts as well.
The script, director, the overall team, they are all essential while saying yes to a film. Today you need to take the whole picture into account and not just the script or banner.
Which has been your most challenging role till date and why?
Gangs of Wasseypur by far, since I had no reference point for it – I wasn’t a mother of four or a Muslim housewife whose husband is cheating on her. I wasn’t even equipped to play a role that old. Even now I wonder how I managed to pull off that role but I had a great director and it was a very well written part, so you cannot discount that.
It is remarkable that you continue to pursue theatre along with your films. Tell us about your play and why did you say yes to this project?
Trivial Disasters was a dark comedy, it fit into my time frame and I had wanted to work with Atul (Kumar). He is a very good director and very renowned in the theater world. I thought it was doable and would be fun as well so I went ahead.
From playing supporting roles to a full-fledged lead, do you feel any kind of pressure to live up to certain expectations?
The only pressure I feel is towards the producer as we are doing these small, independent films and he has to make the money. Also pressure for the audience to like me, I hope I can keep entertaining them but in new and better ways.