Home Entertainment Exclusive interview with Richa Chadha: “Lajjo is very different than what people expect of me”

Exclusive interview with Richa Chadha: “Lajjo is very different than what people expect of me”


In an exclusive interview, Richa Chadha discussed her experience working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali on “Heeramandi” and Rekha’s viral reaction.

Heeramandi, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is one of the year’s most anticipated films. The director and actor Richa Chadha worked in the 2013 film Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram Leela. Richa Chadha spoke in-depth about her experience working on Heeramandi. She plays Lajjo in the show, a character she calls “hopeless and lovelorn.” Very different from the audacious and vocal roles Richa has played throughout the years. After the screening, she also revealed Rekha’s reaction to her performance.

The settings, costumes, and overall appearance of Heeramandi are all amazing! Provide a little information regarding the day you made your first visit to the set.

Truly! The first time I visited the set was while we were still discussing which character I would play. The set took a long time to build. Perhaps I was just too impressed with… This, in my opinion, was also Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s greatest set. It was arranged over a huge geographic area in Film City and is breathtaking. Every character had their own room; there was a kitchen, my bedroom, and other distinct areas. I also had a bathroom. In the bedroom of someone else, there was a hamam. It had balconies, an angaan, choubaras, and fountains. A ballroom, a café, and a performance space were also present! It was just an entire street! He had nearly created a whole city with stores selling everything from dupattas to perfume and kites. At the entrance to the area where we were meant to shoot was a dargah. It was just lovely. I would have just gone through everything and filmed everything if it hadn’t been a no-phone set. The amount of detail was simply amazing. It was really beautiful.

Every work done by Sanjay Leela Bhansali has an unique mark that identifies it as his from the very start. And then there are these really beautiful song sections. You had, of course, already collaborated with him on Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram Leela. Talk a little more to me about your relationship with him and your time working together at Heeramandi.

I had a great time working with him. It’s a delight to work under the direction of someone who makes sure you are so challenged in your abilities from the beginning to the end of a project that you emerge from it completely changed.

I had no idea that I was capable of doing what I had done in the show. You know, I picked this character for the same reason. Though it is extremely different from what people think of me, I had a great time, and I believe he is an artist and has a very caring gaze. In that nothing escapes his notice in terms of quality. Not the script, not the costumes, not the music, and most definitely not the performance.

Finding someone who is as committed, focused, and obsessed with his work as he is is truly enjoyable. At that point, you start to know him. The goal is for each project to help you grow as an actor. However, this is not always the case. I can state with confidence that, in his example, most of us have encountered that during our interactions with him.

Give me some background on your character Lajjo and how you prepare to adopt this character’s viewpoint. Given that it is a completely different era, did Bhansali Sir provide you with any pointers, for example, regarding her body language or diction?

Yes, it is! People speak with a different rhythm and in an alternate era. Lajjo’s speech had a particular poetic, melodic tone. He provided me with Meena Kumari from Pakeezah as a point of reference. and references to her own problems and life. In addition to having an addiction issue, my character also exhibits self-destructive, hopeless, and lovelorn qualities. She lacks agency (laughs). After playing with roles where I’m described as aggressive, loud, and badass, I’d wanted to play a part like that. I was curious to see where this exploration would lead additionally to observe the audience’s reaction. I’m not sure whether I was successful, but I was really appreciative when two of my scenes sparked unexpected applause in the hallway. For an actor, receiving such confirmation is significant.

I would especially like to question you about Sakal Ban and how much fun it was to see you dance to that song. Since we haven’t seen you in this avatar before, tell us about your experience there.

It’s the theme song for my Lajjo character. That’s when her image appears again, observes the festivities, and becomes involved. At the beginning of the song shoot, none of us were supposed to dance in that. However, with Bhansali sir, it’s really unplanned. The choreography wasn’t particularly difficult. Since the emphasis is on the atmosphere and the basant, or the blossoming of youth, it was actually pretty simple. I have kathak training and I love to dance, but I haven’t been in a movie that really shows off that aspect of myself. It’s interesting because—laughs—who would have thought that Bholi Punjaban would suddenly start dancing? I firmly believe that dancing gives a performance more rhythm for everyone. You learn more about rhythm and how to use it to your advantage while narrating a conversation. This is exactly what took place, and I had a great time doing it. Now that I’m doing more of it, hopefully.

You brought up rhythm, which is a recurring topic in Bhansali’s writing. There’s a beat to everything. His scenarios and dialogues have a beat, and nothing happens out of time.

That’s because he has training in both music and one of the hardest classical dance genres, Odissi. As a result, you develop new listening skills for music. You get knowledge of the various musical instruments. For example, the song Sakal Ban is hundreds of years old and still so beautiful. four hundred to five hundred years old at least. The drum, which you hear at the beginning, is such an appealing instrument that it instantly lends the whole thing strength. So, yes, I believe that’s why I enjoy working with him. Classical singers and dancers tell me, “Oh, once in my life, I want to work with Mr. Bhansali because he gets it and he is such a culture connoisseur,” whenever I speak with them. That’s what makes me appreciate his company and his creations even more.

The things he forces others to do—like the garba-style single-take song in Gangubai Kathiwadi featuring Alia [Bhatt]. Alia’s dedication to a single song is something we haven’t seen her accomplish before. It is really difficult. You have to dance and act in character all the time. It’s simply incredible to take a folk form and achieve that. For these reasons, I enjoy working with him, and I’m glad I get to be a part of that experience more than once.

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