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In Bollywood, Women More Vocal On Issues Than Men: Richa Chadha

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The streets aren’t getting any safer for women, we are seeing women being stripped of their agency through tools like love jihad and romeo squads, and women who dare to speak against atrocities are harassed or threatened with on social media with impunity. But Richa Chadha isn’t one who is afraid of what trolls say. She speaks up. In this interview with Shaili Chopra on Sisterhood on if Bollywood as a whole is vocal enough.

What inspired you to do the role of Madam Chief Minister?

When I was first called to be part of the film, I thought it was really interesting. I hadn’t heard a story like this and I hadn’t seen a character like this on celluloid. So I was really excited to play something completely out of the box. Something new for me to do both in terms of physicality and mental make up of the character. And it was a film that had caste and politics in the plot. I immediately said yes.

Politics and caste isn’t talked enough on pop culture, why is it important to have this out there?

I think its absolutely mandatory. If we see how little little progress in this field, we as educated people will rally behind this. So I thought this was an important conversation to be part of. But that’s not the only reason I said yes to the film. This is not a propaganda film. It is simply the story of this girl who beats all odds and all attacks and caste brutality and gender politics to become the chief minister of her state, which is something other people simply can’t bear.

Do you sometimes ask yourself why break into powerful roles like these and not stick to the usual film roles on the table like many others?

I really don’t. What’s the fun. You can’t always get characters that you can agree with it. Somewhere you can resonate with some of their pain. In this case, I could relate to the characters rage. She has a lot of righteous rage. She is constantly fighting, she is aggressive and abrasive. That’s not something that comes naturally to me, I rarely lose my cool.But I could relate to her rage because its the same rage when I read about a gang rape case the investigation of which has been fudged up. I don’t believe in expressing solidarity or discomfort about the events of the day basis which political party I hate or loved. There are some basic things as a human, that need to be condemned by all of us. This is just one of those things, I could relate to this role, growing up fatherless in a society that anyway doesn’t respect the agency of a woman. So when you characters like this, you really want to jump on them. As far as conventional roles go, I don’t really think of them.

Bollywood Actors Speak Up : Is the film industry vocal on social issues? Swara Bhaskar, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma raising key issues – Richa Chadha

Do political outspoken characters make Bollywood uncomfortable?

I don’t think they make Bollywood uncomfortable at all. What you are not aware of is the conversations happening in people’s homes where everyone is talking about the same thing. They are talking about stifling of dissent, of this targeted vilification of the entertainment industry so some people express themselves, some people don’t. So Bollywood doesn’t get uncomfortable but I feel society gets uncomfortable with opinionated self made women who have something to say. Or something very uncomfortable to say. But I proudly say our industry has a history of people speaking truth to power. Whether it was during the emergency when singers refused to perform or Preity Zinta getting an extortion call and deciding not to cow down.

Is it true that more female actors have been vocal on issues rather than men?

100%. Hundred per cent. Whether it is Anushka Sharma talking about pay parity or Deepika Padukone talking about that the cleavage that she said wasn’t news. Whether its Swara who constantly takes a stand or if its Taapsee on so many issues. Women have been speaking far more than their male colleagues.