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Interview Hindi

Where is the hope for cinema? asks Richa Chadda

Speaking to Cinestaan.com, the actress opened up about the experience of working on Amazon Original series Inside Edge and the need to make good digital content.

Shriram Iyengar

For anyone familiar with the world of internet, the sight of Richa Chadda and Vivek Oberoi going head to head in director Karan Anshuman's Inside Edge might have incited some curiosity. The actress plays a glamorous film star who decides to take on the power brokers at their own game — cricket. The 10-episode series was launched last week, and Chadda seems excited about the reviews.

Speaking with Cinestaan.com over the phone, she corrects us, "It's not a web series. It's a VOD, video on demand service, and an Amazon Original show."

While it is among the first of an increasing number of shows reaching audiences through the internet, it is unique for the presence of known names like Chadda and Oberoi in it. Explaining her interest in the project, the actress says, "They gave me the script, a year or two ago. It was a very engaging script, and I could see that it could be made on a beautiful scale. But obviously, I didn't want to miss the opportunity of working on the content." 

It is certainly different than the usual fare on Indian television, with its complex, cinematic look at the world of cricket. "It is a good show made for people who don't have the alternative of watching stuff on Hindi entertainment channels. They can't watch a saas-bahu drama. If you can't relate to it, you can't watch it," Chadda adds. 

Since her breakthrough in the cult film Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Chadda has constantly sought to reinvent herself. From comedy (Fukrey, 2013) to serious drama (Sarbjit, 2016), she has constantly sought out new stories. When we ask if this is a part of her experimentation, she clarified, "I feel like this is a good time to do better content on digital medium. There is so much censorship in cinema and films aren't doing well."

The actress also went on to explain that looking at the digital medium as a separate form of filmmaking is unfair. She said, "See, this crew consisted of people who have worked in cinema. We are actors and technicians who are working on a film. That's how it looks and works as well. I feel it will only get better now." 

The actress even brushed aside any suggestion that she is taking up projects that are not 'films'. She said, "We have got brackets in our heads about this is acting, this is not acting. Look at actors in the West, Kevin Spacey is in House of Cards, Julia Roberts has been signed on for a series. So how long are we going to ignore that this is a growing medium that people love watching?"

Though Inside Edge has opened to some good reviews, its portrayal of the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes has earned criticism. Chadda believes this is something the makers of the show were conscious of. She says, "There is corruption because there is too much money. Whenever there is too much money involved, people tend to get corrupted," adding, "I am aware that it isn't good, and is giving a bad name to the sport. It is something that we wanted to throw light on." 

Getting picked up by Amazon does much to the show's, and possibly future projects from India, reach. Chadda points out the same when she compares the project with the other phenomenal series on the internet, Narcos. She says, "Narcos is a show that has a lot of dialgoue in Spanish, and American English. As a country we are not very familiar with the culture, familiar with the (Spanish) and it is the drug problem, which has also not been much publicised in India. Apart from Udta Punjab, there's not been too many films made on that...I feel like this is a great time to be making such stuff. Imagine if Amazon tries and makes this show Inside Edge, despite having UP Hindi and a mixed medley of dialogues, if it becomes a show like Narcos, which people in America can watch or subscribe. If the content is good, despite the language, it is bound to work." 

But does the advantage of no censorship on the internet also work for the show? The actress adds, "It is difficult to make content, especially if we have to make Inside Edge into a film, we would never be able to make it. Why does censorship exist? So someone can't make a film that incites a caste violence or gender violence, right? If somebody doesn't make a film that encourages unscrupulous things like crime and murder, then I am sure the CBFC has a right to say 'this is not possible', but for other films, they are a part of the scene of the film." The actress points out the example of Alankrita Shrivastava's Lipstick Under My Burkha. "It (Lipstick Under My Burkha) is a film about sexuality, and is written from a different lens," she says pointing out a flaw in the censor board's objection to the film. 

Its not the only thing that Chadda has a problem with. An outspoken actress, she is vocal on social media about causes she identifies with. Currently, it is the scenario of government apathy towards the entertainment industry that bothers her. While speaking about the reason for the rise of digital entertainment, she said, "Single screens are dying. Multiplexes aren't making enough money. Taxes are too high, with GST, it's become even more expensive...So, where is the hope for cinema? What is the government doing for cinema? It is a source of livelihood for thousands or crores of people. So, with all these problems, the release dates and censorship, a lot of people will want to do digital content till we improve our situation."

As for films, Chadda is currently working on debutant director, Arjun Mukherjee's 3 Storeys. Speaking about the film, she says, "It is a special appearance, which was fun to do. I hope it does well. It is niche, and we haven't seen that kind of cinema for a while."

That's not the only project on the actress's plate, she is also involved in the Indo-UK venture of Love Sonia, alongside Demi Moore, Anupam Kher and Freida Pinto. She said, "I am travelling to New York, and have another film of mine set to release, Love Sonia. I am very excited for it." 

It looks like another out of the box venture for the actress, and might start a new international stint for her.