Bholi Punjaban, the character Richa Chadha plays in the Fukrey franchise, is anything but Bholi (innocent).
When I tell Richa Chadha that she laughs, “Bholi Punjaban is quite something. She is neither vamp nor heroine….not in the way these characters have been stereotyped in our films. I would call her a Shero, blending as she does the elements of celluloid hero-giri and dada-giri.”
Consciously or otherwise, Richa Chadha has been breaking stereotypes from the time she came in. Says Richa with pride and amazement, “I don’t know how it happened. It wasn’t as if I had the power to make a conscious decision to choose unconventional roles. But right at the beginning I did Gangs Of Wasseypur which was way removed from the conventional. After that if a Fukrey happened to me, then a Masaan happened after that…And now Fukrey Returns.”
She can’t stop loving her her character in Fukrey. “I love playing Bholi Punjaban because she can do all the things men are generally shown doing in films without losing her femininity. That’s rare. In our films bad women have been the vamps and the good women the heroines. The vamp’s badness is identified by external deeds like smoking and drinking. In Shree 420 Nadira held a cigarette in a cigarette holder and she was the vamp. But in the West. Audrey Hepbburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s held a cigarette in a holder and no one considered her a bad woman.”
Richa Chadha wonders if the ritual of stereotyping women is likely to end in our movies. “I do get worried for myself. What if tomorrow the roles of unconventional women don’t come my way? Would I be comfortable playing the traditional heroine?”
At the moment it’s all hunky-dory for Richa. “It’s been one helluva joyride working in Fukrey and Fukrey Returns. I made friends for life with my co-stars Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Pankaj Tripathi and Ali Fazal. Our bonding is not going to go away. These boys look after me so well while we are promoting the film. When food has to be ordered at restaurants or in the hotel when we travel, they ask for vegetarian food for me even before I ask for it.”
While in real life Richa Chadha has a special place in her heart for Ali Fazal, in Fukrey it’s her other co-star the podgy Varun Sharma with whom she is seen to share a special relationship. Laughs Richa, “Since Varun has a romantic track with me, he’s now officially the first overweight leading man of our generation.”