Richa Chadha’s Shakeela which was scheduled to release in March was delayed due to the outbreak of Covid-19. The film hit theatres on December 25.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Chadha talks about how she prepared for the role and the challenges Shakeela faced in her life and career.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Will Shakeela be able to do the magic of bringing back the audience to theatres? Are you nervous about the film releasing in theatres instead of an OTT platform in the middle of a pandemic?
The film should have released in March this year, but then there’s only so much we can do. We can’t hold on to the film forever. We had to release it in theatres, in the middle of a pandemic. However, it is releasing simultaneously in five languages.
I am sure they (the makers) thought of all the options, of releasing it on an OTT platform too. However, I think because it is a south-centric film, they have decided to do a theatrical release.
How did you prepare to play Shakeela, a south Indian adult film star?
I don’t want to generalise and say a south Indian star, because some of the prettiest stars we’ve had in the Hindi film industry are from down south, whether it is Hema Malini or Sridevi. But, in this case, as I had to do justice to a real person and she was big, so I had to put on a bit of weight. It is not like they care any less of how they appear. It is just that the aesthetics is different. Different parts of the country have different ideals of beauty and sex appeal. She was really beautiful and attractive at whatever size. So, I had to work on that.
Shakeela’s success as a film star was hardly celebrated. Since you play her in the movie, what is your take on it?
It is a big thing in the film itself. She wasn’t really looking at becoming a big star or a big actor. So, the question of celebrating her success does not arise, because to celebrate her, you’ll have to admit that you watched those films, which nobody was prepared to do.
She was somebody who was aware that people will watch her films and they’d never publicly accept that they watched her film, and maybe that’s why she also had a body-double for all her scenes after a certain point of success. I mean, this is just common hypocrisy in the society, and this is the big theme in our film.
What has been your biggest take away from the film?
Shakeela didn’t want to do these films or be a star. Her mother pushed her into this to earn money for the family. Her mother was a junior artiste, so there was always access for her to this world. Having said that, because Shakeela was not interested in this career at all, she only did what she did for the money. She realised that this is helping her pay the bills and taking care of the family. For her, this was just her job.
What actually mattered to her was the love of her family. Their acceptance of her was something she held dear as opposed to just material success.