Richa Chadhas Shakeela, scheduled for March release, was delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The film hit theaters today.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Chadha talks about how she is preparing for the role and the challenges Shakeela faced in her life and career.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
Will Shakeela be able to bring audiences back to theaters? Are you nervous about the movie’s release in theaters instead of an OTT platform in the middle of a pandemic?
The film should have been released in March of this year, but then there’s only so much we can do. We can’t hold the film forever. We had to release it in theaters in the middle of a pandemic. However, it is published in five languages at the same time.
I’m sure they (the creators) have thought about all the options to publish them on an OTT platform as well. However, I think because it’s a film in the south, they decided to go to theaters.
How did you prepare to play Shakeela, a South Indian adult movie star?
I don’t want to generalize and say a South Indian star because some of the most beautiful stars we have had in the Hindi film industry are from the South, whether it is Hema Malini or Sridevi. But in this case, I needed to gain some weight because I needed to do justice to a real person and he was tall. It’s not that they care less about what they look like. It’s just that the aesthetic is different. Different parts of the country have different ideals of beauty and sex appeal. She was really beautiful and attractive in every size. So I had to work on it.
Shakeela’s success as a movie star was hardly celebrated. How do you see it since you played her in the film?
It’s a big thing in the movie itself. She didn’t really want to be a big star or a big actor. So the question of celebrating their success does not arise, because in order to celebrate them you have to admit that you’ve seen those films that no one was ready to make.
She was someone who knew that people were going to see her movies and they would never publicly accept that they saw her movie and maybe that’s why after a certain point of success she had a body double for all of her scenes too. I mean, that’s just a common hypocrisy in society, and that’s the big issue in our film.
What was your biggest win from the movie?
Shakeela didn’t want to do these films or be a star. Her mother pushed her to do it in order to earn money for the family. Her mother was a young artist, so she always had access to this world. Since Shakeela wasn’t interested in this career at all, she just did what she did for the money. She realized that this will help her pay the bills and look after the family. For her, this was just her job.
What was really important to her was the love of her family. Her acceptance was something she cared about, and not just material success.