Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Conversation With An Upcoming Bollywood Star

By Shevlin Sebastian

When I go to see the Bollywood actress, Richa Chadda, at a hotel in Fort Kochi, she is stunned when I tell her that I had not seen her breakout role in 'Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1'.

It ran for six weeks in Kochi,” she says, in an accusing tone.

I am sorry, I wanted to see it, but somehow missed it,” I say.

Richa is shocked that I did not know that 'Masaan', in which she played a starring role, had won a national award recently.

You don't follow Bollywood much, do you?” she says. “And you don't know anything about me.”

I am sorry I am a last-minute replacement,” I say. “A colleague was not free to come. I just could not get the time to Google you.”

When she says that former cricketer S. Sreesanth is acting in the film, I say, “Really.”

You don't even know that,” she says.

When she informs that the producer is Pooja Bhatt, I say, “You mean, Mahesh Bhatt's daughter.”

She nods and says, “Yes, the same.”

I say, “Gosh, I didn't know that.”

She looks at my notebook and the scrawly style, and says, “Nice handwriting. There is a gap between words. You don't see that nowadays.”

I had no option but to laugh and say, “Thanks for being polite.”

Then she watches me pour too much milk in the tea that it becomes white.

You like milk, don't you?” she says.

She offers me cashew nuts.

I couldn't help thinking, as I take some, 'Nuts for a nut'.

Then I call her Rani, and Richa says, “You don't even know my name.”

Profuse apologies later, I ask about marriage, blundering, like TV journalist Bhupendra Chaubey in his interview with former porn star Sunny Leone.

Aren't you being sexist?” she says. “Would you ask the same question to a male unmarried actor, of the same age [27]?”

My mouth opens. Hot air comes out.

It's hot,” I say.

Why is that?” she says.

Global warming,” I say.

I am so glad you said that,” says Richa. “People are in denial about climate change.”

Suddenly, the hero of the film, Gulshan Devaiah, arrives, with a group of people, and says, “Richa, tonight, dinner is on a boat.”

Oh great,” says Richa. “I am loving this place.”

Talk shifts to director Anurag Kashyap who selected her for 'Gangs'.

Anurag is my mentor,” says Richa. “He gave me such a strong role.”

There were rumours he ran away to France after his last film ['Bombay Velvet'] flopped,” I say.

Nobody runs away when their films flop,” says Richa. “He stays ten minutes from my house [in Mumbai]. I see him often.”

So why did the news report come out?” I say.

I guess not all journalists are intelligent (a significant pause) ..... like you,” she says.

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