Richa Chadha has now become a very popular name in Bollywood. Having started her career with Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! in 2008, Chadha has come a long way in the film industry. Known for her off-beat roles, Chadha also bagged the prestigious Filmfare award for Gangs of Wasseypur in 2012.
Praised widely for her work in the critically acclaimed Masaan, Chadha now has an expanding tally of remarkable performances and achievements, as she gears up for her new film called Cabaret. She speaks to Guardian 20 about her fruitful career in Bollywood, musing on what it takes to be successful in the Hindi film industry.
Q. When did you decide that you wanted to be an actor?
A. I was four years old and I got great joy from mimicking my elders, dancing or making people laugh. Since then I have pursued this dream to be an actor.
Q. You started your career in 2008. But you were noticed in Gangs of Wasseypur in 2012 and then Masaan happened. How tough or easy has it been for you to survive in Bollywood?
A. I think my career only began with Gangs of Wasseypur, which I got in 2010. In the interim period between Oye Lucky and Gangs of Wasseypur, I wasn’t really pursuing films much. I was going theatre, more acting training and TV commercials. It is tough to survive in Bollywood, even tougher if you want to do it your way, without compromising on your integrity or choice of work. But I don’t want to just survive, I want to flourish and I approach my work with that mindset.
I have done roles of a subdued and traditional woman in Sarbjit, a gullible woman in Main aur Charles and a vulnerable yet loud one in Oye Lucky. I like variety in my work, but I think the press likes to put me in a box labelled “bold” and that irks me.
Q. You are known as honest, outspoken and upright person in Bollywood. How difficult is to be so bluntly honest in Bollywood?
A. It’s not. I think because you get to live with your choices. I can’t be anything other than honest and I am happy the way I am.
Q. In your short career span you have played the roles of strong, opinionated women, be it in Masaan, or in Gangs of Wasseypur or even in your upcoming film Cabaret. Was it a conscious decision to do such roles? Also, are we making enough women-centric films in Bollywood?
A. I have also done roles of a subdued and traditional woman in Sarbjit, a gullible woman in Main aur Charles and a vulnerable yet loud one in Oye Lucky. I like variety in my work, but I think the press likes to put me in a box labelled “bold” and that irks me. It’s not a conscious decision. I do what I like and that depends on the script. I think till the term “women-centric” exists, we aren’t making enough of those in the Hindi film industry.
Q. In your recent TedX speech, you spoke about your struggle with Bulimia, about the rejections you faced an actor, about the difficulties of being tagged as an “outsider” in the film business, the constantly judgmental attitude of the media towards actresses. Mostly, such issues are not openly spoken about by film actors. Why then did you choose to speak about all this?
A. Because I wanted people to know it’s not easy and that it’s normal to feel the pressure. Eating disorders, body dysmorphic syndrome are huge problems in the selfie-obsessed times we live in. It’s hard for anyone to try and fit. I wanted people to know that I overcame that struggle with a lot of resilience, and if I can do it, anyone can.