'I want to do stories that impact society'
Born into a Bengali Hindu family, Rhea Chakraborty started her television career in 2009 with MTV India's reality show TVS Scooty Teen Diva. Later on she auditioned to be a VJ at MTV Delhi and was selected. And now, after doing several other films, she has been signed in YRF's Bank Chor opposite Riteish Deshmukh and Vivek Oberoi.
Your film Half Girlfriend has just released and you have two more films – Bank–Chor and Dobaara – releasing in a couple of weeks. How do you feel about that?
I am very excited as it's been a long time since my last film released. Whenever a film is releasing, it's a very nervous yet exciting time. So, for me, the next few weeks are super exciting.
We are seeing you on the big screen after a long time as your last release was Sonali Cable, which released in 2014. Why the huge gap?
After my last film released, two years ago, I started shooting for the rest of my films and then everything was due to release but everything got postponed. Yes, there were offers but I didn't think they were the right films for me. But now I feel like there is more exciting work that I would like to do and it will come my way after the buzz of what these three films will do for me as an actor.
You have done very different roles in all these three movies. What was your experience like with that?
All three were really different and Half Girlfriend was very special as I got to work with Mohit (Suri), whom I have known since Aashiqui 2, and I always wanted to work with him. He told me there was a part that was really interesting and impactful, and that I should do it.
It only works for him if it works for you. I was, like, okay. But when I read the part, I was, like, 'wow! I have not done this before.' I have never played an NRI girl before. I have not done anything so emotional and different, so I thought, let's do it.
Similarly, with Dobaara, Saqib (Saleem) and Huma (Qureshi) are dear friends and it's a horror movie. So, I did it for Saqib and Huma because they were, like, 'come on'… And it's a role of a lawyer, which is, again, something I haven't done before. I was, like, chalo let's do it. It just so happened that they were all different.Bank-Chor is a comedy and I love comedies. I had no doubt that I wanted to do that movie.
Can you comment on your roles in these movies?
In Half Girlfriend, I play an NRI girl who still thinks like an Indian and is very grounded despite being raised amid Western culture. It's kind of a special appearance but I think it's got meaning, like, it takes the film forward. That's what I found interesting.
In Dobaara, I get to play a lawyer and I also feel like I get to play what the audience is feeling. In every horror film, you feel, like… 'Why is he going inside this room? Why is he going into this? Stop him, stop her…'
In Bank-Chor, I am playing an entertainment journalist. She is called Gayatri Ganguly aka Gaga.Since she covers entertainment, people don't take her seriously even though she has valid opinions about issues and world politics and all of that. While trying to prove her serious side, she lands herself in a bank robbery.
What has your experience been like working with established stars?
Arjun (Kapoor) is a fab person and he's always making everybody laugh. He is even happy to crack a joke at his own expense, and I love that about him. He is also a gentleman and it was lovely working with him.
Shraddha (Kapoor) and me… I was not expecting us to get this close this fast but we share a lovely bond. She is a fabulous person and we did so many things together. We went hiking together, we went shopping together, we went dining together, we went dancing together, and I think a genuine bond has been created between us due to a film, which happens very rarely.
Riteish (Deshmukh) is, like, one of the nicest people you will ever meet, he and Genelia. He is very down-to-earth. As an actor who hasn't done as much work, I got to work with him and see how he switches on and switches off… you can't believe… I mean, it's a great learning point. So, yes, it was like a great working experience.
Of course, Huma and Saquib are like family in my life. I hang out with them, and shooting with them is like being with two close friends.
Also, it was your second film with Saqib…
Yes, correct. That bond is really special and we have the funniest relationship. We never speak to each other seriously, we only talk rubbish!
Do you have any insecurities while working with these established actors?
Not at all. I loved working with Shraddha, and I would love to work with Alia (Bhatt), and I would love to work with any of these girls as they all are really talented, all stunning, inspiring women.
Was acting always on the cards?
Actually, no. It's funny as I wanted to get into IIT and become an engineer as I had studied science. Then MTV happened, and I started giving auditions and getting more work. I don't think I would have enjoyed doing anything else as much as I enjoy acting.
Exactly at what point did you decide to become an actor?
When I auditioned for Mere Dad Ki Maruti, I did not expect to get the part. I wasn't expecting to get a YRF movie. I had no education in acting and no training. I was auditioning with Shanoo Sharma and I gave many auditions for her and I was, like, okay… why are you testing me so many times, like, am I that bad? And when I got the film, I realised what it was all about. When I started shooting, I experienced the energy on the sets and it was just beautiful. I think after that, I realised it was the only thing I wanted to keep doing.
You do not have a filmi background. How did you manage to break into the industry without a godfather?
Every journey is difficult. Getting a film is difficult because so many people want to be a part of the movie business, like, 3,000 to 4,000 people come to Bombay every single day to become actors. I was really lucky to get my first opportunity. It is also difficult to get a film even after doing a film. Also, you should do a film only because you really feel for it, regardless of whether the character has a big or a small role.
What kind of movies are you looking forward to doing?
I think an actor wants to play many different characters as that is enjoyable but I also want to do stories that impact society and can really make a difference.
There are a couple of interesting things but I want to wait till Bank-Chor releases to decide which film I really want to do next.