‘I’ve lost out on parts because…’

‘People had a perception that I may be angry as a person.’
‘Or I’m older than I really am.’
‘Or I can’t speak in English because of the characters I’ve done at the beginning of my career.’

Photograph: Kind courtesy Richa Chadha/Instagram

There’s currently a lot to celebrate in Richa Chadha‘s life.

Her new Web series Heeramandi, which marks her second collaboration with Sanjay Leela Bhansali after 2013’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram Leela, is getting rave reviews.

Her maiden production Girls Will Be Girls is creating ripples On the international festival circuit.

On the personal front, she is ready to welcome her first child with actor-husband Ali Fazal.

Balancing a lot of work and excitement, Richa is powering on through the ‘chaos’.

“I’ve not had the time to sit down and enjoy it fully or take a breather,” Richa tells Mayur Sanap/Rediff.com.

You are one of those few actors whom Sanjay Leela Bhansali repeated in his projects. How does it feel to be a part of this elite group?

I’m very privileged, honestly.

He’s unique, in the sense that, only he can do what he does.

It’s a privilege not just to be directed by him but also to get a chance to be a part of his world and his universe.

I don’t think anyone portrays women as beautifully as he does.

I am getting do a song and dance number with him, which really excited me.

IMAGE: Richa with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Photograph: Kind courtesy Richa Chadha/Instagram

What’s the creative energy on his sets like?

He picks the right people for all his projects, be it the DOP (Director Of Photography), the production designer, the costume designer…

In his universe, everything he does has to be perfect.

He is like the glacier of creative energy, and that creative energy just flows. People who contribute to his craft are all very, very capable.

For example, I don’t think you can ignore the contribution of Sudeepda (Sudeep Chatterjee), who is his DOP.

Because he hires the best technicians, it makes everything perfect. There is no compromise at any level.

Bhansali is known to not mince his words while communicating with his actors on sets. Do you remember any moment where you couldn’t grasp his instructions during the take?

It was during a dance sequence, actually. There’s long choreography and somebody had to move the camera to come on me.

It’s not about not grasping the instruction, but it’s about not getting that perfect shot that he wants.

Perfection can take time.

The thing is, it’s my job to do the take not just 100 times, but 200 times if the director is not happy.

IMAGE: Richa in Heeramandi. Photograph: Kind courtesy Sri Paramani Jewels/Instagram

What’s the thrill of being a part of women-led project? After the recent success of Crew, do you think it is about time that more such projects are made?

I have yet to watch Crew, but I’m very thrilled about its commercial success, especially because I am a big fan of Tabu.

You just need a good storyline with powerful female characters.

We do have strong female characters and women leading the projects on OTT, but it will be nice to see that transfer onto the big cinematic experience as well.

I think the country is ready for it.

Now that you have turned producer, has your approach to acting changed in any way?

Both producing and acting can be hard, and that’s the reason why I chose not to act in my first project as producer.

I was new to production and want to make sure I was good at it. It was not just making a project and diversifying my career.

I wanted to tell a good story. That’s why it needed 100 per cent of my focus.

IMAGE: Scenes from Heeramandi. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bhansali Productions/Instagram

At this juncture of your career, do you feel temptations of venturing into Hollywood, especially after Ali’s successful crossover?

I don’t think it’s easy to just crossover to Hollywood because talent plays a big role.

It’s also about access, and how you get from here to there and approach those casting directors.

I’m very happy that Ali got there. I would wait for the right opportunity.

I keep giving auditions if and when something comes up that needs an Indian actor or an actor of Indian origin.

There’s a lot that goes into it.

Sometimes, it is accent-training like an American accent or a UK accent.

I’ve lost out on parts because I’ve not been able to get the accent right.

IMAGE: Richa with Ali Fazal. Photograph: Kind courtesy Richa Chadha/Instagram

Do you envisage taking your work to international grounds with your production company?

Yeah, why not?

The first film we made was an Indo-French coproduction. We sent it to Sundance and it won two awards.

I believe that a good narrative can work across borders.

But I’ve not really made it with this feeling that it has to be Hollywood.

I want more and more people to see it as you want the world audience. Today, that is also possible with the streamers that we have.

It’s been over a journey of 15 years for you in showbiz. When you look back, what do you think was the difficult thing or perception you tackled with?

People had a perception that I may be angry as a person.

Or I’m older than I really am.

Or I can’t speak in English because of the characters I’ve done at the beginning of my career.

IMAGE: Richa and Ali Fazal. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar.

Are there any new things you are discovering about yourself as you are set to embrace motherhood?

I’ve not had the time to sit down and enjoy it fully or take a breather.

Between production and promotions for Heeramandi, it’s been very chaotic.

I hope that when the show drops, I can take a break and come out stronger and refreshed on the other side.

How do you power yourself through this chaos?

I just take a nap if it’s a very tough day.

Suppose if there’s a half an hour lunch break, I spend 10 to 15 minutes eating and 10 minutes of deep breathing or taking a nap.

That’s what I do to keep going.

When can we expect the India premiere of Girls Will Be Girls?

There’s some time for that. Perhaps in October we can expect the release. Right now, the film is continuing with its festival run.

We have a festival in Asia, we have something to attend in China and a few other places.