Richa Chaddha in Gangs of Wasseypur I
She was first seen on the big screen in Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! but it was as the feisty Nagma Khatoon in Gangs of Wasseypur that Richa Chadha made her mark. The Delhi girl is still reeling under all the appreciation coming her way for the first film. “It’s all just a little overwhelming but I am loving all the compliments,” she giggles.
Richa, in a short dress, looks nothing like Nagma when t2 met the actress in an office of co-producers Viacom 18 in Vile Parle, Mumbai. Between constantly glancing at her phone and sipping on water, Richa talked about playing Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s mother and more.
Are you happy with the reactions to Gangs of Wasseypur I?
Did you read the reviews? Of course I am happy! I am on cloud number nine. Honestly, I didn’t expect the kind of feedback that the film and I received. I don’t think there was a single review that didn’t mention me. The film has such stalwarts and the poster everyone had been talking about had Reemma Sen’s back. So, I just thought that no one was going to pay any attention to me.
When you were offered Nagma, didn’t you think it would make the audience sit up and take notice?
Not really. Anurag (Kashyap, the director) didn’t have a bound script complete with dialogues. So, when I got the script there were just skeleton scenes. It just kept evolving. I just thought that she was interesting. For me, initially, the selling point of the project was the chance to work with Anurag. I didn’t except such an overwhelming response.
What happens to Nagma in GoW II?
If you thought young Nagma was interesting, the older one is even more so. I had to change my voice, bring out the body language of an old woman.
Did you have any doubts about doing the film given that Nagma ages?
Absolutely not. Nagma is a very strong female character in an epic male saga and roles like this don’t happen very often. By the time we started shooting, I had understood how important the character was to the fabric of the film and that dispelled all doubt.... It was very challenging because in this one Nagma is a 60-year-old widow and she’s lost her child. I had no reference point for this role in real life. So, I couldn’t figure out how to get under her skin. I couldn’t understand how to be a mother to Nawaz who is a decade older than me in real life. Thankfully, he was around to help me forget that. Also, to get the physicality of an old person was tough.
Your character abuses quite a lot. How did your family react when they saw the film?
My parents are academics who understand cinema. They understood the subtext of the film. I am glad that they focused on all of that instead of what I was saying or wearing. I think my parents see me in a different light after this film. They understand that my craft is sacred. Before GoW, they must have thought that acting was just a whim. Not anymore.
You will start shooting with Mira Nair for a short film soon. Excited?
Of course! All of this month will be spent in preparation and we’ll start shooting in September. It’s an interesting film that explores the emergence of the ‘new’ Bombay; it’s evolutions and delaying with the crowds.
What is next for you?
My next release will be Tamanchey, with Nikhil Dwivedi, a hardcore commercial film. There’s also a romantic comedy with Ravi Rai. I want to do roles that are as diverse as possible.