Saturday October 19, 2019

Actress Richa Chadha Speaks Upon Patriarchal Society

Richa said she is soaking in the environment, which is getting translated into her performance

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Richa Chadha
Richa Chadha. Wikimedia Commons

Actress Richa Chadha, who essays south Indian film actress Shakeela in a biopic of that name, says being disrespectful towards any successful adult film star and tagging her as a “porn star” is a sign of a hypocritical and patriarchal society.

“Calling an adult (film) star a porn star is a sign of patriarchy. You are disrespecting an actress (Shakeela in this case) who is part of films that are adult in theme. And then you are watching them so much that those films are making huge money. What kind of hypocrisy is that,” Richa Chadha told IANS in an interview on the set of the biopic “Shakeela” here.

Highlighting the “duplicity of the morality of our society”, she said: “Adult films are made because there is a market for them… It is really easy to call successful, self-made woman names in a patriarchal society.”

Directed by Indrajit Lankesh, the logo of “Shakeela” was launched a few days ago. The film’s tagline reads ‘Not A Porn Star’. So, is it a way of conveying to the audience a perspective on the story of Shakeela?

“See, there is no point of fighting about what people said about her at the peak of her career. People watched her films and called her a porn star, which she was not. In the film, we are unveiling the story of an actress and the unexplored side of her journey. Then let the people decide if she really deserved the tag she had to bear,” Richa said.

An outspoken and forthright actress, Richa Chadha has been vocal about the #MeToo movement as well. She says she feels privileged that, from the beginning of her career, she never had to deal with any sexual predator.

“I am really fortunate, in all the opportunities that came my way, of not having to deal with these regular predators who are making the work environment worse for women. But I want to say that I know almost all women somewhere or the other have faced some moments of awkwardness in their life — be it an inappropriate text, uncomfortable touch, some eyes gazing at them… It all happens to us at the workplace.”

Richa Chadha
Richa Chadha. Flickr

Such practices have also led to some good talent being lost. But Richa says not anymore.

“We lost a lot of them in the last few years, but now that women are opening up and standing up against such discrimination, the future looks bright where new talent will come and flourish without feeling uncomfortable at the workplace,” she said.

As for “Shakeela”, Richa was happy about being able to give select media a glimpse into the set of the movie. A fragment of Kerala has been recreated for the film set here to shoot a marriage sequence with utmost detailing to capture the nuances of Malayali culture.

Richa said she is soaking in the environment, which is getting translated into her performance.

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“One of the reasons why we wanted some media to come here on the set is because of the beauty of this place… It is calm, quiet and a colourful slice of the southland. This is a set we have built to show how a south Indian marriage looks like. The mandap, decoration with flowers and every authentic element of a Malayali marriage gives us a chance to soak in their culture.

“For years, we are widely exposed to north Indian culture through Bollywood films. But with this biopic, I am hoping that a large Indian audience will get to experience the beautiful south Indian culture,” said the “Masaan” actress. (IANS)

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Social Media Tends to Scrutinize Female Stars More Than Male Stars, Says Richa Chadha

Actress Richa Chadha, known for her opinions, says she has observed how, at times, mainstream and social media tend to scrutinise female stars more

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Although she was criticised by a section of the media in her initial days, she holds all her critics in high regard. Pixabay

Actress Richa Chadha, who is known to be vocal with her opinions, says she has observed how, at times, mainstream and social media tend to scrutinise female stars more than male stars. Although she was criticised by a section of the media in her initial days, she holds all her critics in high regard.

Richa told IANS: “Mainstream media as well as social media tends to be unfair towards female stars, and female stars get trolled and criticised more than their male counterparts. I can say this from my observation of the way media constantly questions Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Swara Bhaskar, Sonam Kapoor and other female stars for their choices – whether it is fashion, political opinion or lifestyle. Do they question the male stars enough as well?”

Citing examples of films that have released this year and earned commercial success, the “Fukrey” fame actress mentioned: “How many times has the media questioned male actors on films that are jingoistic and encourage warmongering? During the press conference of my film “Section 375″, I was asked about my opinion on the flood-affected areas. Do they ask these questions to the real people who actually can bring change – I mean the authorities and politicians?”

In “Section 375”, she plays the female lead and received a lot of positive reviews from the critics. However, in her initial days, she experienced both sides of media coverage but she learnt to handle everything gracefully.

On negative media coverage, Richa said: “I am very cordial with my critics because how they write about me is their prerogative. In my initial days, I have had press call me ugly. They called me names for my appearance in a film where I was not required to look glamorous. An article was written on me, titled ‘10 things that one hates about Richa Chadha’ by a publication. If a journalist tries to belittle me, I would rather grow a thick skin, instead of taking the negativity to my heart.”

criticise, Richa Chadha, Gender, discrimination, female, male
Instead of trial by media, it should be trial by law: Richa Chadha on #MeToo. Flickr

“There is a difference between critiquing and being mean to someone, and I know that,” she added.

Over the past few years, Richa has also been trolled – whether in 2016 for her comment on the commonality between herself and Pakistani actor Fawad Khan at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, or when random social media users called her names. However, she always gives the trollers back.

Richa is gearing up for “Panga” next year, and her gameplan is very much in place.

“I will be continuing experimenting with my work and I will be in a good space in the coming future, also because this is what the wisdom and experiment teach you. These days actors get encouraged to do experimental work but I have been doing it since my early days,” said the actress who portrayed a grandmother in the film “Gangs Of Wasseypur” when she was just 24 years old.

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Asked about where she gathers confidence from, Richa said: “There are women before me like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, and Deepti Naval who have shown the courage of doing experimental films and of course they are inspirational for us.”

“Also, I am happy the way women are getting appreciation beyond their age. You know, when people say there is one Meryl Streep, I disagree, there are also Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, and Judi Dench, and everyone is nailing it in the films they do! Because age has nothing to do with performance,” she smiled. (IANS)