Looking forward to Heeramandi after a hit in Fukrey 3, Richa discusses how Bhansali makes actors tap into their true potential
To Richa Chadha, Fukrey 3 was personally symbolic of hope. The comedy was shot just after India went through its darkest days of the pandemic. Today, as Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s directorial venture has crossed the Rs 100-crore mark worldwide, the actor says it was the cast and crew’s deep attachment to each other that saw them through the hard times. “Comedy is serious business. But what made it special was that we were all friends chilling, joking and eating together. The movie’s jokes are enhanced in a relaxed environment. This film never gives me pressure. You can’t enjoy comedy if you are stressed,” she says.
The franchise has given Bollywood two popular characters, Chadha’s Bholi Punjaban and Varun Sharma’s Choocha. Given the fan-following her gangster-turned-politician character enjoys, will Bholi Punjaban get a spin-off? “The makers have copyrighted [my character]. So, it might [happen] some day. One has to ask our director if and when.”
For now, she moves on to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s maiden web series, Heeramandi. Chadha, who featured in his Ram Leela (2013), says working with the auteur is an experience that leaves artistes enriched, sometimes even making them realise their true potential. “I got a call from Bhansali sir’s office; he said, ‘Come, meet me’ and that was it. No auditions, he just knew [he wanted me for the part]. I love working with him; it makes me better. He wants to explore your full potential. With Mr Bhansali, you can’t do a half-hearted job. He knows if you are bluffing. When he says, ‘I know you can do the scene better’, you wonder what can be added. Every day is a challenge, and you try to rise to the occasion.”
The Netflix series—starring Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Chadha, Sanjeeda Shaikh and Sharmin Segal—tells the story of strong-minded, powerful courtesans of pre-Independence India. But there is more than the gender aspect, says Chadha. “Historical dramas are important for the cultural aspect they bring in. The art and culture of that time, and the knowledge that these women possessed became important to showcase [in the series]. At the end of the show, I walked away a better actor.”