Mumbai: From playing the mother of Nawazuddin Siddiqui at the age of 24 to making her presence felt at the festival circuit as well as at the box office, Richa Chadha has carved her own niche. The actress says she would rather opt for a project that gives her a chance to act than just give her visibility.
Born and brought up in Delhi, Richa started her career in Bollywood with the film "Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!" in 2008 after doing theatre extensively. However, she went through a tough time in the film industry before "Gangs of Wasseypur" happened in 2012.
She has since played several substantial roles in films as different as "Fukrey" and "Masaan". Doesn't she feel bad that mainstream filmmakers are not collaborating with her enough for a protagonist's role?
"Look, if the producer is looking for a business of Rs 100 crore from a film, they need a star like Deepika Padukone to pull it off and it is purely a professional reason. I am okay with all that.
"I am not here to make money anyway. I want to leave a mark on every project that I take up, every film that I do," Richa told IANS in an interview.
"I would say that only in 'Sarbjit', I felt misused. I regretted choosing the film, but 'Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela' was a great experience. My character was pretty substantial. As long as my choice of the film gives me a chance to do that, I will continue choosing quality," she added.
However, she admits that playing the mother of an older man, at the age of 24 in "Gangs Of Wasseypur", was certainly a risk.
"That was a huge risk that I took at that point in time for which nobody appreciated me. There are people who thought that I am much older than what my actual age was. But people also understood my calibre as an actor," she said.
Richa was also offered to play the mother of Hrithik Roshan in the film "Agneepath".
"Yes, that is true, and I think that was a really stupid idea of the person who offered me that role. I think he was smoking something wrong," quipped the actress, known for speaking her mind.
Asked to choose some of her best performance so far, Richa said: "Of course, Bholi Punjaban (in 'Fukrey') is one of the roles that has given me a lot of love from the audience.
"It was a very empowering role of a woman who runs her business like a gangster with so much confidence. It was a very well made film and I think that is how a commercial film should be, with good content, and it will earn money at the box office as well."
Richa said "Masaan" is one of the films which is also close to her heart.
"I think I am so lucky that I started in 2012 and in 2015, my film was receiving two awards at the Cannes Film Festival. I will always be thankful to Neeraj Ghaywan for giving me the role," she added.
The irony is "Masaan" was one of those films which initially nobody -- whether a producer, big studio or film stars -- was interested to be a part of.
Since she did not have a film background, what gave her the confidence to find the potential in the material back then?
"Oh that's easy... I have a brain. People mostly think about a character where they will get to look good, two song-dance sequences for visibility... but that is not how it works.
"I think it is the responsibility of an actor to add value and meaning to the character that is written in the script. We bring life to the characters through our performance.
"So I could be playing anything -- whether a cameo or the main lead -- but as an actor I will create an impact to the narration. We all get a script to perform, what makes the difference is how we utilise the opportunity to excel," said the actress, who is eager to work with some of the young female filmmakers.
"Whether it is Alankrita Shrivastava, Zoya Akhtar or Reema Kagti, I love their work. They are really good filmmakers and storytellers. I was almost doing a film with Reema, but it got cancelled last minute. I am looking forward to working with her in future," she said.
"I would love to work with Vishal Bhardwaj. I have loved all his films," said Richa, whose Sudhir Mishra-directed "Daasdev" released last month.