Trust Richa Chadha to pick unconventional projects and characters. She hopped on to the OTT bandwagon with Inside Edge in 2017, long before the nation saw a digital boom, and she’s now trying her hand at podcasts. The actor, whose latest project is Baby Doll on Audible, thinks the medium is a “cool way to tell stories.”
“The audio medium gives you a freedom to explore certain things that would be impossible otherwise, maybe because of censorship or scale of production. This is going to be here, much like the radio plays,” Richa told indianexpress.com.
Richa plays a sex worker out to avenge the death of her friend from an underworld don, played by Jaideep Ahlawat. Director-writer Pravesh Bhardwaj had tried to collaborate with Richa around the time of Gangs of Wasseypur, but it didn’t work out then. “I guess I was on his mind. So, when he wrote something original, he came back,” Richa said.
Considering a podcast is an audio medium, was it difficult to build up the character with just her voice? Richa shared that her theatre background helped her in voice modulation. “It’s challenging, but it’s also rewarding because there are things you can do, which you can’t in a film. Like I’ve tried to make my voice sound tired, eerie, or bring in more grain.”
Richa and Jaideep were a part of Gangs of Wasseypur in 2012. She said she’s happy seeing Jaideep’s growth and success. “He’s been a shy guy from FTII. I feel true camaraderie with him.”
But given Richa’s character in Baby Doll, does she believe she’s been taking up roles of a seductress too frequently? Richa disagrees, calling it “an occupational thing.” She said, “Here, she’s sounding seductive because that’s her trait. It’s her job. There are times she sounds depressing and angry. I give variety in my characters. And no actor wants to be in any comfort zone.”
Richa further lauded the new fixation with the audio platform. She said the fact that one needs to keep their visual imagination alive, it gives a lot of liberty. “Fiction podcast is like a storytelling session. When you create that kind of descriptive sound, it takes you into that world and makes it engaging. When you’re watching a visual, we are telling you what to see, what to focus on. Here, All you have is your own mind to create a visual,” she stated.
Richa, who plays the central role in Inside Edge, released its third season last year. Even her hit franchise Fukrey is currently under production for its third part. Refuting that repeatedly reprising her characters restricts her performance, Richa shared, “Why to disappoint audience who loves one character so much? It’s a matter of privilege. People are still so crazy about it and it gives me a kick that I’m so indispensable to the project.”
While Richa is busy carving her own path, Hindi film industry is struggling against the reigning south Indian wave at the theatres. The scenario has give rise to the tag of ‘pan-India’ films. In Richa’s opinion, “They’ve got their math right in terms of numbers and ticket prices. That’s why a Master opens to such numbers because a very dedicated fan club of a south megastar ventures out and watches the film. And unlike the Hindi film industry and its greedy film distributors, there they keep the ticket at Rs 100-400 even if its a hit. But over here, due to a ticket priced above Rs 400, footfall will decrease. Audience will pay for food and beverage. Naturally, cinema will suffer. It has more to do with the distribution.”
Reiterating the need to control ticket pricing of Hindi films, Richa added, “I don’t see that happening here, unless you are forced to. Recently, a film was released which I’m sure will come on OTT soon, its leads had their noses up in the air. And when the collection of first day came, it was less than one-third of what the hero charges. If this happens, how will your math work out? Those are the real questions one has to ask and work from there. The bigger stakeholders in the business should take the onus if cinema has to survive.”
Richa recently made news for her body transformation and her new fit avatar. She however said she does not believe in documenting her fitness journey, as it’s different for every individual, she resented at those who do that. “I feel celebrities need to be less greedy. They are selling everything which I find very irresponsible. I’m not a doctor, not a nutritionist. It is not my business to tell people about weight loss or how to fix hormonal problems. I don’t want some young chick to emulate me and hope to lose weight. That won’t happen because there’s no one size that fits all.”
Recalling how ‘size zero’ hogged headlines back in the day, Richa added, “When I was starting out, Kareena Kapoor’s size zero and weight loss was a national news. But maybe her nutritionist was sensible. So, I don’t remember everyone emulating her suddenly. It might not have suited everyone what she did for her body.”