An ordinary Delhi girl who aspired to become an actress in Bollywood, came to Mumbai to pursue her mass media studies, started with a small blink-and-miss role in a film, four years later she finally got her major break, but not as the conventional glam doll that one gets to usually see in Hindi films, rather she played a 60-year-old mother to someone twice her age. The self-appointed wise men of the industry predicted the end of her career even before it had begun.
However, today she is representing Indian cinema at various international film festivals including the prestigious Cannes Festival, she walks down the red carpet along with other beauties of the world, gets mobbed by the international press, receives standing ovation for her performances, judges film festivals like Marrakech Film Festival alongside renowned Hollywood filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, has just bagged an international project, Love Sonia, along with Frieda Pinto… to put it in a nutshell; the girl is going places. The girl is none other than Richa Chadha, the versatile actress who continues to wow us film after film.
Like they say, dreams make things happen, nothing is impossible as long as you believe and it’s this belief in herself that has helped Richa to not only realize her dreams but also turn her passion into a paycheck.
Richa, who is yet again basking in the rave reviews for her recent release Sarbjit always wanted to be in the movies. She says, “Acting was always at the back of mind and I knew I wanted to be an actress ever since I was four or five years old. I used to do plays from time to time in school.” So after completing her honours in History from Delhi’s Stephen College in 2005, the Main Aur Charles actress spread her wings and flew to Mumbai to realize her childhood dream. “In fact, I enrolled for a Mass Media course at Sophia College only because it was in Mumbai and I wanted to come to Mumbai to chase my dream. I knew that I had to bargain for my dreams and that bargain was to get a good education and give it my parents and tell them – ‘now my studies are done, now I can do what I want to.’ Initially, my parents didn’t understand my passion for my art. They kept asking me - ‘are you sure you want to pursue this career?’” reveals Richa.
Well, today her parents are not only understanding but extremely proud of their daughter for making a mark for herself in the Bollywood industry sans any godfathers.
But the journey hadn’t been as easy as it seems to be. For starters, like any other aspiring actor with no connections in the industry, Richa had no idea how to break in the industry. The Masaan actress who has offers pouring in today had to struggle a lot to find a foothold in the industry. And had it not been for her passion and determination, she would never have tasted success.
“I did not think it would be so difficult to get a break. I thought people just sit in coffee shops and get discovered. I had read that Kangana Ranaut got her first break like that. Then there was somebody, who was taking their dog for a walk and Mahesh Bhatt discovered them…so even I thought I will get discovered somewhere but that never happened,” says the Bholi Punjaban of Fukrey.
In fact, before entering films, Richa worked as a journalist with a men’s fashion magazine, she even took up a reporter’s job with a TV channel but quit all that so that she could focus on her dreams. She routinely kept picking up modelling and advertising assignments, simultaneously doing theatre to keep her love for acting alive, till she finally did bag a small role in a film alongside Abhay Deol, the same actor who a year earlier had refused to give her an interview while she was working with the magazine.
“I was doing a play with Barry John in Mumbai, where Dibakar Banerjee’s assistant spotted me. They called me for an audition. At that time, I didn’t even know how to put my makeup properly or had a portfolio. I went for the audition with a passport size picture, Charmis cream and Vaseline for the makeup. That’s how I got Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!. However, at that point it never occurred to me that I was not really the lead, till such a time that I interacted with the lead, Neetu Chandra,” says Richa who would be soon seen in a leading role in Cabaret, she adds, “But even then the size of the role did not matter to me. The important thing is not your screen time, but the impact that you leave there. My character Dolly got immensely appreciated but I still didn’t get enough work until Gangs Of Wasseypur happened.”
She further elaborates on her journey in B-town, “I had auditioned for Dev D, but that part went to Kalki Koechlin. Anurag told me that he would work with me in the future. I didn’t believe him at that point of time as everyone said such things to newcomers but he actually stood true to his words and gave me the role of my lifetime — Nagma in Gangs Of Wasseypur.”
Richa didn’t hesitate even once to take up a character who ages from 16 to 60 during the course of the film. The role got her instant recognition and adulation, with everyone raving about her acting prowess. However, as it happens in this industry, people soon stereotyped her and started offering her similar kinds of roles. “Someone came to me with a script saying that this has too many gaalis you will enjoy doing it. Then, at one point someone actually called me up to play Hrithik Roshan’s mother in Agneepath. It shocked me. I was 24 years old and people told me that my career is over.”
But the feisty girl wasn’t giving up so easily. Her mantra was simple, “Just keep going every single day. There’s nothing better than that. The struggles will only get harder.”
And with that attitude she went forward to conquer her dreams. “It's not easy to reach here (Bollywood). One has to struggle. Many of my friends have been struggling hard, though I am comparatively lucky. After 9 years of struggle, I am where, where I wanted to be. I am doing what I like. Even non-outsiders have to struggle. So, I am no exception. But what gives me a high is the fact that I have done it on my merit,” says the actress who has an impressive list of projects in her kitty, which includes Sudhir Mishra’s Aur Devdas, Jiya Aur Jiya, and an international film Love Sonia.
Well, the gal has certainly proved that if you are passionate about something there is nothing that can stop you!
Read to know about passionate KHILADI - AKSHAY KUMAR
Image Credits: mid-day