Bollywood seems to be caught up in a kind of gender war. Actresses are raising their voices against pay disparities, the prevalent patriarchy and the difficult route to success for women in showbiz.
And, as actress Richa Chadha says, the word “ambition” still has negative connotations when used for women, although she herself doesn’t pay heed to “labels given by men or women”.
Richa has established a permanent place in Bollywood through non-conventional roles from portraying a hot-headed don in “Fukrey” to a small-town girl fighting taboos around sex in “Masaan”. Now, she has gone behind the camera to produce a Punjabi short film “Khoon Aali Chithi” — based on terrorism the Khalistan movement spawned in the 1980s and early 1990s.
She is positive about the transition from actor to producer.
“I don’t care how people react to it, because I don’t see it as anything other than positive. I think the prevalent gender stereotype is ambition, still a bad word when it’s applied to a woman, and a great quality when it’s an adjective for a man. I don’t care about labels given by men or women actually,”
After Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma decided to get into the filmmaking business, Richa has hopped onto the bandwagon.
What drew her to film production? Richa, who forayed into Bollywood with “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!” in 2008, was quick to point out: “Why is the question specific to actresses? What draws an actor to production draws an actress to production.”
“It’s not a desire specific to gender. I’d like to be able to say what I want, through the content I support,” she added.
Talking about her production, the actress said: “It is a short film that my friend Rupinder Singh brought to me. It’s set in the late 1980s and early 1990s in a small village in Punjab where common people got caught in the crossfire between Khalistanis and the state. It moved me since I have a personal association with that. Also, it felt like the right thing to do support this film.”
Richa, who is known for gravitating to content-driven cinema, asserted: “My name may not carry weight, but I know it carries credibility and I wanted to use that to spread the word about this short film.”
The actress, who wants to back “interesting” projects as a producer, is a bag of nerves over the project, but is confident that she will improve with each production.
“This is my first experience as a producer/presenter. It is very different from acting, because as an actor, you primarily only care about your job,” she said.
“I am sure I will learn about the challenges as I move on to bigger projects. This one was smooth. But because it’s my first time, I am trying to figure out how to submit this short to as many festivals as possible.”
It is not only production projects that are keeping Richa — who has used her rustic charm to win hearts in movies like “Gangs of Wasseypur” and “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela” — occupied. She is busy with Omung Kumar directed “Sarbjit”, which also stars Randeep Hooda and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan; and “Cabaret”, where she is playing a dancer. And the actress says she is excited about all her upcoming projects.