Richa Chadha, who was last seen in Section 375 starring Akshaye Khanna, has a kitty full of projects - Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Panga starring Kangana Ranaut, Anubhav Sinha’s Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, Shakeela and season two of the web series Inside Edge starting December 6. The Telegraph caught up with Richa for a tell-all chat.
What new thing can the audience expect in the second season of Inside Edge?
It’s going to be fun. I think in the first season we were all struggling because it was India’s first original series. We were still figuring out how it should be made and shot because now we had to shoot for 45 minutes instead of two or three hours. My character Zarina Malik is a classy, ambitious woman and it’s a fun character to play. It’s a great break from all the dehati roles that I do (laughs). I’m proud to say Inside Edge is India’s first original - we went ahead and shot a show and later Amazon took it and it did good things for the series game in India.
What’s the biggest difference between working in web shows as opposed to films?
Both mediums are different. In films, you have to remember that two hours is all you have, everything you say or do will be in those two hours. In a series, you know that this episode has a cliff-hanger, another episode will have something big for your character and so on. In the last two years, so much has changed because Radhika Apte securing an Emmy nomination is a big deal! That too for web, that too it being a part of one of four films (Lust Stories for Netflix). I really appreciate my colleagues for their achievements because I think it’s important to support each other. I think everyone is working on both now and that’s a good thing.
What can you tell us about your role in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Panga that also has Kangana Ranaut?
The film is getting edited as we speak. I got to play a sportsperson which I have not done before on screen. It’s a fun film about women and sports and the challenges they face. People forget that women have to make so many sacrifices and choices, for example if you get pregnant at an early age, do you choose your career or your child or both? It’s an interesting film.
You played public prosecutor Hiral Gandhi in your last film, Section 375. How did you get into the skin of a lawyer?
I met lawyers because when I walk into a set it should look like I work there every day, it shouldn’t look new to me. At the same time, I had to keep the vulnerability alive - that she is a young, ambitious and new lawyer. She’s handling the case because everyone thinks it’s an open-and-shut-case and it’d be easier for her to win it because of the medical evidence. I met with lawyers, studied a bit of law and it helped me with my performance in the film.
It’s a heavy subject that deals with rape. Were there moments where you broke down while shooting?
Yeah, I had many such moments. My character graph was that she slowly becomes confident and makes very humane and intelligent arguments even though the defence is destroying her evidence piece by piece. I really enjoyed working on this film... at one point my director (Ajay Bahl) was so nice, he gave an early lunch break because I had started crying.
How is Ajay Bahl as a director?
He’s very focused and driven. He doesn’t talk too much or laugh too much. I had watched his BA Pass when it had come out. I had thought he has a good knack of handling thrillers with an emotional side as well. His shooting is very atmospheric, I really enjoyed working with him. I want to be friends with Ajay Bahl because he is so talented.
You also have Anubhav Sinha’s Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai that has a big ensemble cast...
It’s a comic caper, events that happen in one day in a hotel room. It has multiple characters, it’s damn funny and I really enjoyed working on it. It’s wrapped now and should come out next year. It has a whole bunch of stars like Saurabh Shukla, Pankaj Tripathi, Vinay Pathak, Pavan Malhotra, Divya Dutta, Manoj Pahwa, Prateik Babbar... Anubhav Sinha probably decided one day, ‘Let’s just call the best actors of Bombay for dinner and narrate a script.’ It’s a fun film. I had loved his Article 15 and I’m marvelling at how on one hand he is making a Mulk and then he did Article 15 and then he is breaking all that by doing Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai which is a comedy. He is very versatile and he himself has a very quirky sense of humour. He is a very nice person off set too.
What’s going on with the biopic on Shakeela?
We have just finished shooting it this year and the film is in edit. I had met Shakeela and interacted with her. They are deciding now whether it’d be dubbed in other languages. She’s an adult star from the 90s and she became such a huge phenomenon. Her life is very cinematic for me... a lot of things happened in her life that falls in the category of filmi. That’s why the story is fun. I did it purely because of the story.
How much stress do you carry back home from set?
I don’t carry it. Whatever happens on set happens between ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’ and then it’s done. I don’t like carrying stress to home and that’s the reason I don’t do method acting. I try not to do method because it’d drive me mad!
How do you handle trolls on social media?
It doesn't bother me because these are people sitting at home and typing things, how can I take that seriously, to heart? In your life, you cannot please everybody. You'll have people who do not understand your work... in Masaan a lot of people, 'arre apne toh acting hi nahi ki'. They are so used to seeing me in a Bholi Punjaban (Fukrey) role that when I do a quieter role, they start questioning. Silence was the beautiful part about that character. Whether it's your fashion choices or your tweets, you cannot take trolls seriously. I honestly love trolls because they add a certain comic element to my day. It's funny when a guy who probably cannot spell his own name accuses you of something.