It Would Be Wrong to Say Sanjay Leela Bhansali Glamourised the Lives of Tawaifs in ‘Heeramandi, Says Richa Chadha | Exclusive

In an exclusive interview with News X, Richa Chadha opened up about preparing for her role in ‘Heeramandi’. She also reacted to the criticism that the show glamourises/glorifies courtesans

Richa Chadha recently received critical acclaim for her performance in ‘Heeramandi’, which premiered on Netflix on May 1. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali-helmed series features her as Lajjo, a lovelorn courtesan, and is set in pre-independence India. In an exclusive interview with News X, the ‘Inside Edge’ star opened up about preparing for her role in ‘Heeramandi’. She also reacted to the criticism that the show glamourises/glorifies courtesans and offered insights into Bhansali’s approach to filmmaking.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

What drew you towards the role of Lajjo in ‘Heeramandi’?

I felt really happy about bagging this role when I first heard the script. It was a great step forward for me. I have previously played my share of feisty characters on the screen. However, this was the first time I got the opportunity to play a lovelorn woman with no agency who is not empowered. I enjoyed playing the character. The whole idea was to get into the headspace of this hapless woman who believes in her lies more than the reality. She also has alcohol issues.

Your character has limited screen time in the series.

I was offered other characters but this one was the one I wanted to do as I felt I could give my best to it. It was a calculated risk to pick this character over the others that came my way. Whatever else came my way had shades of grey and I feel I have explored that space plenty of times. I wanted to do something that was tragic and moved the audience.


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How was the experience of collaborating with Sanjay Leela Bhansali?

It was a great experience and I have always loved working with him. I was a different person when I worked with him previously and have evolved now. I give him credit for my growth. I really enjoy being pushed to the limits as a performer. Sanjay sir always wants an excellent job from his actors. Not just a good one.

A section of the audience feels that ‘Heeramandi’ glamourises tawaifs.

My character is the opposite of glamorous. It shows there is social stigma and you may not have a normal life.This woman (Lajjo) doesn’t want property or jwellry. All she wants is to marry or find someone who loves her. Sanjay Leela Bhansali glamourises everything. There is a lot of beauty in everything he does and this was the case even in a make-believe world like ‘Saawariya’. You think SLB and you think beauty and art. I don’t think the argument that he is glamourising the life of a tawaif holds. The best courtesans had glamour. I would say that he makes everything look beautiful.

Any similarities between Richa and Lajjo?

Not really. I am pragmatic. I don’t think I would ever be a hopeless romantic. In fact, I think, I would not have even been married if I had not met my partner.

Lastly, what the advantages of OTT for actors?

As there is no box office pressure many table actors get many more opportunities. Also, you get to see a variety of performances and there is more diversity on this front.