Bollywood seems to be caught up in a kind of gender war. Female actors are raising their voices against pay disparities, the prevalent patriarchy and the difficult route to success for women in showbiz.
Although actor Richa Chadha says, the word “ambition” still has negative connotations when used for women, she herself doesn’t pay heed to “labels given by men or women”.
Richa has established a permanent place in Bollywood through non-conventional roles from portraying a hot-headed don in Fukrey to a small-town girl fighting taboos around sex in Masaan. Now, she has gone behind the camera to produce a Punjabi short film Khoon Aali Chithi – based on terrorism the Khalistan movement spawned in the 1980s and early 1990s. She is positive about the transition from actor to producer.
“I don’t care how people react to it, because I don’t see it as anything other than positive. I think the prevalent gender stereotype is ambition, still a bad word when it’s applied to a woman, and a great quality when it’s an adjective for a man. I don’t care about labels given by men or women actually,” said Richa.
What drew her to film production? Richa, who forayed into Bollywood with Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! in 2008, was quick to point out: “Why is the question specific to female actors?” It’s not a desire specific to gender. I’d like to be able to say what I want, through the content I support,” she added.
Talking about her production, the actor said: “It is a short film that my friend Rupinder Singh brought to me. It’s set in the late 1980s and early 1990s in a small village in Punjab where common people got caught in the crossfire between Khalistanis and the state. It moved me since I have a personal association with that. Also, it felt like the right thing to do, to support this film.”
Richa, who is known for gravitating to content-driven cinema, asserted: “My name may not carry weight, but I know it carries credibility and I wanted to use that to spread the word about this short film.”
The actor, who wants to back “interesting” projects as a producer, is a bag of nerves over the project, but is confident that she will improve with each production. “This is my first experience as a producer/presenter. It is very different from acting, because as an actor, you primarily only care about your job,” she said. “I am sure I will learn about the challenges as I move on to bigger projects. This one was smooth. But because it’s my first time, I am trying to figure out how to submit this short to as many festivals as possible.”
It is not only production projects that are keeping Richa occupied. She is busy with Cabaret, where she is playing a dancer.