Richa Chadha is bold and beautiful.
Be it Raseela Bhabhi from Ram-Leela or Bholi Punjaban in the Fukrey series, all of her roles are formidable with a hint of compassion and generosity.
To break-through into a cut-throat business like the Entertainment industry is one mammoth of a task, but Richa has proved that she is here to stay.
Her forthcoming venture Love Sonia is a big international project and had its world premiere at the London Indian Film Festival.
The film consists of a mega cast including Mrunal Thakur, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Rajkummar Rao, Freida Pinto and more.
A gripping and harrowing account of an innocent girl’s journey in the vicious global sex-trafficking trade, Love Sonia releases in UK cinemas on 25th January 2019.
Here is our detailed interview with Richa.
You’ve received a lot of love and appreciation for Love Sonia. Has this been the reception you hoped for?
This is the first film that has gotten me two awards before release so I’m grateful and happy.
I feel happy to be able to talk about this subject because the more we speak about it, the more awareness is raised.
Initially, you were quite sceptical about doing the film. Looking back, do you feel satisfied with the way director Tabrez Noorani has handled it?
Initially, I wasn’t so gung-ho about this project is because I had seen an Indian film on the subject and I thought that it was gratuitous and did nothing for the cause.
So, I didn’t want to be a part of something like that and I didn’t know Tabrez.
I’m glad about the way it has shaped up the way it has and got the appreciation it has.
Also, I am happy that it is being released in the UK because it’s such an important market as the issue is also rampant in Britain.
In what way do you feel playing Madhuri has enhanced your skill as an actor?
First of all, it’s not easy to play such a character. Whenever we utter the word prostitute, it’s always used a slur or condescending manner.
But after doing the film, I realised that a woman who gets forced into prostitution is beyond their control. I realised how wrong we are as a society.
It is shocking how nothing happens to the men who buy and sell the women. It was a hard film to do but I’m glad I did it.
You underwent a lot of preparation. In fact, you’ve worked closely with a campaign aimed at saving rape and sex traffic victims. How eye-opening was this experience?
The experience made me realise my own privileges. Living in a country like India, it made me realise how lucky I am to get an education and pursue my dream – that is a luxury.
These women are brought and sold like meat and there is no escaping this life… It’s never going to be a happy ending, which is heartbreaking.
I was just conscious of that fact and I hope that there is a change in society after this film – with regards to the approach and attitudes.
I also hope that the government back home takes stringent measures to end this universal problem.
Through the making of the film, the team has even rescued four girls. How else do you hope the film will impact society?
With regards to attitudes, I feel we have to acknowledge the problem before we solve it.
In India, prostitution is illegal. When I met girls for research, I found out that many of the girls had been trafficked by people nearest and dearest to them – which is really shocking and heartbreaking.
However, one shouldn’t feel bad about not knowing enough. On the contrary, one should attempt to do whatever possible after they find out.
In my case, I didn’t know half the magnitude of the problem until I read the script. This is the most-kept secret of the world and it is the largest illegal trade in the world.
I don’t even know where we’ll be able to make a change in our lifetime, but I think it’s definitely worth a try.
Currently, the #MeToo campaign is gaining momentum in India. What and where do you think Indian cinema will end up post this campaign?
I really hope it ends up at a place where men and women can work together, without females feeling oppressed and entitled.
That’s the only way we will progress as the film industry. Things are always considered to be ‘okay’ until someone says that it isn’t.
As such, I think the same will happen with regards to gender comparing and the issues that come with gender – be it #MeToo or women being paid at power.
No rights for women came easily, be it the right to vote, childcare, etc. If men start feeling the brunt of their actions and hows this impacts their livelihoods, then this impunity will end.
Some of the names revealed have come as a shock to the industry. It’s been difficult for many of us to come to terms with this.
However, unlike before, it is not the women who will feel apprehensive of their reputation, but it’s also the men.
Culprits need to be held accountable for their actions, irrespective of gender. That’s when the change will begin.
Full Audio Interview with Richa Chadha:
What drives you to choose particular characters?
I’ve also done a few not-so-successful films, as well as successful films, but that’s a part and parcel of work.
My key idea is to tell interesting stories and that really helps me… That’s an important factor.
Sometimes I pick a film which others may have rejected by other actresses because it might be considered to be risky.
One such script was Gangs of Wasseypur. Many actors rejected it in fear of playing Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s mother.
But I thought “hey, I’m not the only person ageing in the film, so why I shouldn’t I do it?”
It’s all about luck, persistence and hard work.
Speaking of formidable, there has been a rise in female-centric films in Bollywood. Do you feel that this trend has been a long time coming?
I don’t think it’s a trend, it’s like the whole eco-system is realising the importance and necessity of ‘female-centric’ films.
Now people are waking up at the potential of an entirely new market and it’s happening at a much faster rate than people can keep up with.
If you don’t get on with this fast pace, you will get left behind. That’s exactly what’s happening.
Until ‘female-centric’ films are called that due to a need, they will be addressed as that only.
Here’s wishing the supremely talented actor all the best for all current and forthcoming projects.
After doing its rounds in film festivals, the celebrated movie Love Sonia (produced by Life Of Pi fame David Womark) hits the UK cinemas on Friday 25th January 2019.