Richa Chadha on working with Kangana Ranaut in Panga: 'Our relationship is very professional'
Richa Chadha talks about Panga, working with Kangana Ranaut, her next film Madame Prime Minister and Bollywood representation in politics.
When Richa Chadha was offered Panga, two of the biggest attractions for her to give a nod to the film, was learning a new sport (kabaddi) and to work with Nil Battey Sannata and Bareilly Ki Barfi director, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari.
“In Panga I didn’t even have the ambition of wanting to be the lead because I already have that image from Gangs Of Wasseypur, that of a much older person as I played the role of ‘Faizal ki amma’. Here, my greed purely was to learn a new skill with good coaches and do a film with someone like Ashwiny,” says Richa. Panga talks about a kabaddi player ‘Jaya Nigam’ (played by Kangana Ranaut), who quits the game after marriage and motherhood, and returns to the field with the support of her husband (Jassie Gill), her son (Yagya Bhasin), and her friend (Richa Chadha).
“But I am an important part of the story. My character is true to her sports. You will see my character either playing or coaching. The difference between Jaya (Kangana’s character) and Meenu’s (Richa’s character) is that one chooses marriage and having a child and the other one chooses to remain single and continues her journey in sport. So she becomes a national and an international player and eventually she becomes a coach/part time player,” says Richa.
“I wanted to work with Ashwiny because I liked her previous films. Directors like Meghna (Gulzar) and Ashwiny don’t hero worship or idolise their women. Women are who they are in their films. I am, anyway, an evolved character in Panga. My character feels that you can come back into your profession or sport any time you want and there is no age limit for your dreams. Also, Ashwiny is a planned director. She will do shot break down, she will make story board, she will design and sometime she will shoot some dummy shots with other women and then she will show it to you to understand the scene. She is very thorough and she is also very emotional. She likes to enact and show it herself,” adds Richa.
As part of their preparation, Richa says all those actors who were playing kabaddi had to train in order to get the body language right. “We trained under international coaches and it was really tough. We had to build a lot of muscle. As a result, all of us look a bit broad in the film. I still have some of my leftover muscle,” she says while showing her arms.“We trained with the international players. They had booked trainers for about three months. But I could train only for a month because I was also shooting for Inside Edge 2 and Shakeela around the same time. But I worked a lot on my body to make it a little tougher,” Richa adds.
It’s for the first time that Richa’s collaborating with Kangana and all her scenes are primarily with Kangana. “I am a tough friend of hers. We are these two star players, both gone different ways and then they reunite after seven to eight years and have a conversation. I am trying to encourage her to get back to the game. I keep scolding her - ‘You are not fit now, you can’t run from here to there, you can’t play, you have no stamina, no muscle what are you doing with your life...’ I want Kangana’s character to start playing and that triggers her to make a comeback to the sport and I help her train. I could totally relate to my character - of being true to your career. Maybe if I wasn’t an actor I would have been married by now. I would be trying to do other things,” says Richa.
Further, talking about working with Kangana, Richa says, “When we were not shooting our relationship was very professional. Kangana and I came as two professionals acting in a film. But yes, Kangana has given some very smart inputs and if she works with the director and there is team work, it will definitely benefit the film. Technically she knows her job. Ashwiny has a good track record. Kangana as a solo female star pulls in box office. The film should work.”
Next, Richa is quite excited about Subhash Kapoor-directed political drama, Madam Chief Minister (earlier titled Madam G) which is loosely based on the life of former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati. With most of its portions shot in Lucknow, the film is complete and most likely to release this year. “I can’t talk more about the film because it is not yet announced. The film is complete and the entire shoot happened in various parts in the North. It is a political film. I will call it my most enjoyable, productive and difficult shooting experience,” says Richa.
Known for her outspokenness and candid opinions, Richa has been at the forefront of the ‘Bollywood’ representation against the protests being held in various parts of the country against CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). She had also disagreed with ‘Bollywood doesn’t speak up’ claim amid protests. She elaborates, saying, “It is easy for us to take a stand because we don’t have the liabilities that the top-listers do. And that is the truth. I don’t have 300-crore riding on me. I can be free. I am a young person, I am a voter, I am a tax payer. What 70- year- olds are deciding today I will have to live with it for the next 40 years or so. I am invested in the future of my country. I have to take a stand and I believe the government has good intentions and they will listen. They have to listen,” concludes Richa.
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