Ticket to FAME

Talent and patience has helped actor Richa Chadda achieve her dream of becoming an actor

As you sow, so shall you reap’, is what actor Richa Chadda’s mother, Dr Kusum Lata Chadda, used to tell her every time they travelled together on a train. For Richa and her younger brother Pranav, it translated into action, especially on their train trips during summers to meet maternal grandparents in Ranchi. “My mother taught us that if we ate a fruit in the train, we had to throw its seed out of the window so that someday a tree grows from it. That was a great way of giving back to nature,” she says. “Eating litchis and blackberries provided respite from fatigue during our long trips and the best part was spitting seeds out of the windows, hoping to help a plant grow along the tracks someday!” quips Chadda. And every time Richa travelled along the routes that she had frequented as a child, she would inevitably look out of the window and wonder if the seeds had grown into big trees!


When the seed of acting was taking birth in her mind, Richa knew that she had to nurture it with talent, patience, diligence and performance. A Delhi girl, Richa moved to Mumbai in the late naughties and started dabbling in theatre and modelling before making her debut as a supporting actor in filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! She appeared in a couple of other films before arriving on the big screen with Anurag Kashyap’s gangster drama, Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2. She packed a punch with her gritty portrayal of Nagma Khatoon. The two-part film was also screened in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar section of the 65th Cannes International Film Festival to strong reviews. “The film got a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. It was overwhelming to see the audience response,” says Richa about her first outing at the French Riviera. The performance was well-received by masses and classes alike in India too and landed the actor Filmfare Critics Award for ‘Best Actress’.

In the last five years, Richa’s dalliance with different genres has paid off well. She slipped with ease into the role of local gangster, Bholi Punjaban, in Fukrey, romanced another convict as Babu in Tamanchey, played Charles Shobhraj’s girlfriend in Main Aur Charles, scorched the screen as a feisty widow in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela, won over the audience with her vulnerability as Devi Pathak in Masaan and convinced critics as stoic Sukhpreet in the biopic, Sarbjit.


Neeraj Ghaywan’s directorial debut Masaan premiered at 68th Cannes International Film Festival and won two awards – FIPRESCI, International Jury of Film Critics prize and Promising Future prize in the Un Certain Regard section. “It was an unforgettable moment to be back in Cannes and what a rousing welcome we received — a fiveminute- long standing ovation,” shares Richa. In the film, she essays the role of an educated girl from Varanasi whose boyfriend commits suicide after being caught by the police in a hotel room with her. In the film she is shown to fight social stigma, police apathy and personal turmoil to rise above the odds and overcome the anger and shame that beset her after that incident. “The Railways had an overbearing presence in the film. The male protagonist Deepak Chaudhary (Vicky Kaushal) takes up a job as an engineer in the Railways while my character gets the job of a booking clerk. A scene in the film was shot on a train. We also shot on the platform and ticket counter,” she informs.


In 2014, Richa bagged her first international project Words with Gods, a Mexican-American anthology film. It had eight films directed by different directors who put forth their cultural experiences. The Indian story, directed by Mira Nair, was about a south Mumbai family moving into a duplex apartment and showcased their debate on the location of the prayer room. Chadda was seen as a newly-wed bride in the film. “It was fantastic to work with Mira Nair,” she says. Now, the actor is excited about her next big Indo-American venture titled Love Sonia. Inspired by real life events, this David Womark’s production is being directed by Tabrez Noorani and is the story of a young Indian girl’s journey through the world of international sex trafficking. The movie has a strong cast including names like Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Anupam Kher, Freida Pinto, Demi Moore, Adil Hussain and child actor Sunny Pawar. “I am delighted and honoured to be a part of this project. It was a great learning experience,” says Richa.


Richa turned a producer with the Punjabi short film, Khoon Aaali Chithi (meaning, Written in Blood, in English). “I decided to invest the project to help my friend Rupinder Inderjit,” informs Richa adding, “Becoming a producer has changed my perspective and now I have added respect for the producer clan as I understand the value of their money.” Richa’s film premiered at the Indian Film Festival in Melbourne in 2016 and is an innocent love story of a teenager set against the backdrop of the turmoil in Punjab in the early 90s. Chadda’s brother Pranav has composed music for the film. “Pranav is passionate about music, and I could afford him, so he was roped in for this project. He has done a great job,” says the proud sister with a chuckle.


Not only is Richa doing some great indoforeign projects, she also has two upcoming Bollywood movies Fukrey Returns and Cabaret in her kitty. Additionally, Richa is also a part of forthcoming television series Inside Edge, which is a Video on Demand series for Amazon Prime produced by Excel Entertainment. “The script is crisp and the look and feel is refreshing. It will change our perception of TV soaps,” concludes Richa.

Written By: Shillpi A Singh

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