Richa Chadha is on cloud nine with the success of her latest film Fukrey Returns. Here she is in conversation with Bhakti Mehta
How does the overwhelming response the audience has given to Fukrey Returns feel?
The audience, the fans have been amazing. They have responded very positively to the movie. As for the industry, people are watching it in their own time and the praise is coming in. But the biggest joy for me is that the film has worked at the box office. It has surpassed our expectations in terms of numbers. This helps to open more doors for all of us who have worked on the film. It also helps to make Fukrey 3 as we have left an opening for it at the end of this film.
Hopefully, this dream run at the box office will continue for a while as the next big release is Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai on December 22. That gives us time to collect more money. And the best part is that Bhai (Salman Khan) has also supported our movie, especially when we went on Bigg Boss. So I am very happy that people have helped us and it has resulted in this.
What was it like to get into the skin of Bholi Punjaban after four years?
It was a lot of fun to do this. I am very different in real life, so I always enjoy doing a character that doesn’t have any limitations in her mind. She doesn’t think ki mujhe aisa karna chahiye ya waise karna chahiye. She randomly picks up people and threatens to take out their kidney or their eyes! I loved playing this character because she is unafraid. There wasn’t any difficulty slipping back into this role. We did do some preparation as our director made us all watch the first film once again at a special screening.
Did you have to tweak your character for the sequel?
This time, my character was a little different as she had more shades to her personality. In this story, we saw how even she was scared as there was a sword hanging over her head. This mix of a character being strong as well as weak at some points makes it very interesting and leads to a good payoff at the end.
Bholi and Choocha’s love-hate relationship had a very unexpected end.
Yes, it was very unpredictable in the end. The angle of the Bholi Punjaban and Choocha romance has always been very different. We have seen many diverse jodis on the big screen like in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and other films. The pairing of Bholi and Choocha is sweet and people really enjoyed watching the game between them.
What dhamaal took place when the Fukrey team reunited on the set?
If you look at my Instagram page, you will see how much fun we had. It wasn’t really a reunion because we keep meeting each other on a regular basis. In fact, Choocha has followed me to my home and lives in the other wing (laughs). We have made plans to party again now. We just need an excuse to get together because whenever we meet each other, we have a blast. Whether the shoot or the promotions, we have had a very enjoyable time.
When you’re doing comedy, you need to be comfortable with each other. You don’t crack a joke in front of a stranger, right? So it’s good that all of us share this chemistry. The entire cast, not just the core team, everyone was super-comfortable with each other. All this helped us to make a fun, happy film. It is even more special for me because I keep doing dark films like Masaan or Gangs Of Wasseypur, so the change of pace with comedy is nice.
You share a special bond with the director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba.
By the grace of God, I have worked with a lot of good directors in my career. But I always say that there are two people who are very close to me and one of them is Mrighdeep Singh Lamba. I like simple, straightforward people who focus on themselves and their work. I hope this film does even more business so that it helps him get even more films. It is really difficult to make things that are already funny, even funnier. But Mrigh has done that so well. He is a great guy. He deserves this success.
What has your association been like with Excel Entertainment?
My association has always been very good with Excel Entertainment. I like the fact that they know how to lure the audience with interesting content. I have worked with a lot of people but Excel is the best because they take care of their actors, pamper them a little, etc. I did Fukrey with them and Inside Edge (web series) was also their production. And I have another film with them called 3 Storeys which comes out next month. My work with them continues as we are in sync each other.
Both you and your character of Bholi Punjaban are considered outspoken
Personally, I would call myself straightforward rather than outspoken. I can’t be diplomatic. I always try and say the right thing because we are public figures and have certain responsibilities. What Bholi and I have in common is that both us don’t think that being a woman should limit one’s options. Hum yeh nahi sochte ki main ladki hun toh main ye cheez nahi kar sakti. I don’t keep thinking about how I need to speak a certain way or walk a certain way, and neither does my character. That’s what resonates most with me about Bholi Punjaban.
From the first Fukrey to the sequel, how have you changed as an actor?
Doing a Fukrey Returns came with its challenges. When I did Fukrey in 2013, it was my third film. After that, I did movies like Ramleela, Main Aur Charles, Jia Aur Jia, etc. When I started shooting for Fukrey Returns last year, I had become smarter, and my director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba said I had to unlearn everything I had learnt after the first film! He said, ‘Bring back the innocence you had in the first film.’ He told me to forget where the camera was and just do my bit. Unlearning is very important for an actor.
The year 2017 also saw you making your digital debut. What was that like?
For me, this year has been about taking calculated risks. Inside Edge was a very calculated risk on my part. I have worked with Excel before, so I trusted they would not make something for the sake of it. They would not follow the suit of sex and violence that is trending on the Internet right now.
I also realised I could not ignore the web platform any more. Everyone, including myself, is watching it. So since Inside Edge was a story that had aspects of both Bollywood and cricket, it would attract the Indian audience. People discouraged me when I was doing this, which is the problem with people here. They don’t know that the biggest Hollywood stars are doing stuff for the web right now. Even Brad Pitt did a movie called War Machine, which he promoted in India with Shah Rukh Khan. This film released only on Netflix. So these platforms are here to stay and we have to welcome them. I want to be the actress who did all kinds of things, like playing an old woman in Gangs Of Wasseypur, doing comedy movies, playing serious roles, etc.
Tell us what you have planned for 2018.
The first quarter is completely booked with Aur Devdas, 3 Storeys and Love Sonia. Love Sonia is my international project. These films will release in the first three months of 2018. After that, I will start the shoot of Inside Edge Season 2. Apart from these projects, I am not in a hurry to sign anything new. I was waiting for Fukrey Returns to do well. When something like that happens, people approach you, not the other way around, and offer you films with respect. Otherwise, I have to keep yelling that main non-star kid hun toh tum kuch bhi offer kardoge. I am very happy with this right now.