While she certainly thinks that good times are ahead for Indian cinema, Richa Chadda strongly believes that the Indian audiences is way too judgmental about women characters that don't fit the norm.
In an exclusive chat with us, the actress who recently gave a spell-binding performance in Masaan, gives us an insight on what it was like shooting for the film and more...
When were you approached for Masaan?
I was approached for it in 2012, when Gangs of Wasseypur had released. Neeraj was an assistant on GoW and he basically wrote something and he wanted me to do it. I really liked it. We finally made it in 2014 because we were looking for funds.
How did you prepare for the role?
Neeraj Ghaywan gave me some 6-7 films to watch and he explained to me in detail what the part was about and sort of took me through the lines. We did some reading and character workshops and that was about it. The fun is in playing characters that are unlike you.
Did you have any reservations playing this character?
No, Devi is a great character, I am lucky to have found such a character to play.
Certain sections of the audience don’t sympathise with your character completely saying that she doesn't treat her father well...
Those people that you are speaking of... I don’t care about them. What we are trying to show in the film is that it is as normal for a woman to have sexual curiosity as it is for a man. And for people to go into a judgement about how the father is “paying” for the girl’s curiosity, this is the problem that we are trying to tackle in the film, that the rules should not be different for a man and a woman. We can be unhappy with the way Devi (Richa's character in the film) treated her father but what about the way her father treats her? Does that not have any impact on her life? The thing with the Indian audience is that they are so judgmental about anything that the woman does, it’s almost like saying, “Oh my God, she was horny so she should be punished in the film!”
Your character doesn’t have a lot of dialogues, did it bother you?
It is a great challenge. It is easier to play a loud character like a Bholi Punjaban from Fukrey who has a lot of dialogue. This was a great opportunity to be versatile and different and also to say some things without saying anything. It is the Indian woman who will fight and she is resilient but also quiet.
The Banaras of Masaan is very different from our perception of the place. How was your experience of shooting there?
The film is more about Banarasis than Banaras. There are people who live in this exotic city...it wasn’t an Incredible India story that we were trying to make. We were making a film about people who live in this city which is on the crux of change and it is also one of the oldest cities in the world. It is a city where you have spirituality but you also have so much corruption. And it is true for Banaras, when you visit a temple you feel so much peace at the ghat but the pandit who takes you there might just rob you for your money!
Were you expecting the kind of response Masaan got?
Once the film was made I was aware that it was going to be a special film. It is running houseful in the metros here and I am very delighted about it. I knew critical success would come because the film is so good but commercial success is something we are all very happy about. One doesn’t expect a film like Masaan to make money but it is which means that more people are opening up to this kind of cinema.
Whose character did you connect with the most while reading Masaan's script?
Sadhya ji’s character (played by Pankaj Tripathi in the film) is the one I loved the most. He is so content with his life, he is reading his books, having his kheer. He lives alone with his father. He is a loner but he is not lonely. He is an interesting and endearing character.
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