MUMBAI: Richa Chadda won notice right from her first outing – Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! in 2008. But it was Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (GOW Part 1 and 2 were released in 2012), which established Richa Chadha as a powerhouse performer. As the expletives-spewing wife of a warlord, Nagma Khatoon, she grabbed attention. The feisty portrayal won her the Filmfare Best Actor (Female) Critics’ Award.
At 24, she had no qualms playing a mother; such was her strength of conviction. She won over critics once gain in Neeraj Ghaywan’s award-winning Masaan (2015). As a girl, who’s caught having sex on camera, her portrayal unearthed shades of vulnerability and ignominy. She had aced comedy as the lady gangster, Bholi Punjaban, in Fukrey (2012). Its sequel Fukrey Returns (2017) had her further display her flair for humour. “I’ll soon complete ten years. Oye…! was released in November 2008,” smiles Richa adding, “But my journey actually began with GOW.
After Oye…! I didn’t get work. I wasn’t dying to do films either. I went back to theatre.” Richa has performed in the popular play White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Soon, she will be part of the play The Life in Telling, produced by Quasar Thakore Padamsee’s QTP Productions. She insists as an artiste she’s content. “I’m not a short-distance sprinter. I’m a marathon runner. It’ll take time. I’m aware of that. But I believe that 10 years down the line, reviewing my work, a retrospective of my films could be held. My films can be discussed academically and from the perspective of film appreciation,” she informs. “People will realise that I was a visionary… maybe not now, but later,” she maintains.
Truly, her risk-taking abilities were evident as early as in GOW. “I was just 24 and played a mother. Today, whether it’s Priyanka Chopra, Shraddha Kapoor or Kareena Kapoor Khan… have played mothers. I believe I’ve been a forerunner. I don’t want credit for it as long as change happens,” she says. She comes down strongly on the tendency to ‘categorise’ actors. “People believe, if an actress is ‘arty’ she will wear ethnic kurtas and rant about social issues. People need to understand that one person is capable of doing multiple things.” She goes on to illustrate, “Madhubala, Sridevi… were heroines, who were both sexy and funny. But we tend to label actors as ‘funny’, ‘bubbly’ or ‘cute’. We have labels in our minds. My quest is to be free of labels.”