Last seen in Modern Love: Mumbai, Chitrangda Singh chats about her upcoming projects, being a single mom, and lots more
From her love for acting to the thirst for trying new things, Chitrangda Singh gets candid about what keeps her going, as she chats about her recent OTT outing
Chitrangda Singh began her modelling career when she was just 19 years old for quick pocket money. It was only after working on advertisements for brands like Oracle, ICICI bank, and Alukkas Jewellers that she discovered her love for acting. Soon after, she forayed into Hindi cinema and made her debut in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, a political drama directed by Sudhir Mishra. Released in 2005, the movie was a massive success and was also premiered in 12 film festivals including the Florence River to River Festival and Bite The Mango (Bradford). Chitrangda won the Best Debut award for her gritty performance and one would have thought that there would be no looking back for her. But, she is far from your regular Bollywood heroine. This Jodhpur-based actor is known for her versatile choice of roles and has been praised for her work in projects like Desi Boyz, Kirchiyaan, Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3, and more recently in Bob Biswas. After working in several genres, the actress also took the producer’s cap for the Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu-starrer Soorma. Recently she made her OTT debut with Modern Love: Mumbai and her episode, Cutting Chai, directed by Nupur Asthana was one of the highlight segments of the premise. The actress has not only nailed various roles in just acting sphere but is lovingly acing the role of a proud single parent. She was married even before her debut movie got released, then separated from her husband after a 14-year-old relationship and is now a single mother to her son Zorawar. In a way, she is one of the few leading ladies who broke the conventional stereotypes in both personal and professional space and did what she had to — unabashedly and unapologetically. We caught up with the 45-year-old actor, producer, and writer over a phone call, who tells us that the last 17 years of her career have been like a rollercoaster ride and we also discover the many sides of her. Excerpts:
You made your debut with Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and post that you were a part of only a handful of movies. Would you say that you are selective when it comes to picking films?
There have been multiple reasons for it, the major one being, the seven-year break, which I had taken. It was during this phase that I was trying to balance work and my personal life. While I do take complete ownership of this, I always gave great scripts a chance. Speaking of script selection, I would call myself reasonably selective and not painfully selective. I am not one of those who needs everything to be on the line (laughs). But, if there is a story that resonates with me, I am all for it.
You recently made your digital debut with Modern Love, what was the experience like?
For my segment, Cutting Chai, we did long shoots. We filmed it for about 11 days and so it was quite hectic. But, it was great fun. As an actor, you must enjoy, what you do, and I enjoyed every scene that we shot. Working with actors like Arshad Warsi was one hell of an experience.
When one is watching Cutting Chai, they develop empathy with your character, Latika, who constantly feels neglected by her husband, Danny. But, by the end of the episode, we get glimpses of how he makes it up rather beautifully every single time. Though all your ‘what-ifs’ get closure, would you as a person draw a line in a relationship like Danny-Latika?
I believe that it is both difficult and easy to generalise. We often offer idealistic advice to people asking them to stand up for their own selves. We can’t be happy all the time and that’s the harsh reality. Even for relationships to work, one must go through all the rough patches and only then you can shine together. Saying that, if you constantly feel unhappy and when you know deeply, that it is not working, you must find the strength to let it go.
With so many shows and movies releasing on digital platforms that are trying to portray human bonds and emotions in the truest form, what parallels would you draw between mainstream cinema and OTT?
You are right! I suppose OTT gives you a certain level of freedom to show things, the way they are. It provides filmmakers a great space to tell real, gritty, and humane stories. We don’t have to package it in a candy floss manner, like a movie that will have a theatrical release. It has to be larger than life, aspirational, entertaining — all at once.
Your upcoming project, Gaslight helmed by Pawan Kripalani, is already creating quite a buzz. What can we expect from it?
It is cliche to say something like this, but I’ve never done anything like this before. The movie is a thriller drama and I can guarantee you that the story is one of a kind. I have not seen something like this being made in Hindi cinema for a while. So the audience is in for a jolly ride. And, Sara and Vikrant are such good actors, so it was a great experience working with the two.
We hear that besides acting, writing is something that interests you...
Yes, it does. I have written the screenplay and story for a short film and enjoyed the experience thoroughly. I also hope to take the director’s seat soon for a short movie.
So, you are someone who enjoys dabbling with new things?
(Laughs) Definitely. Only when you try something new, does it excite you and also put you in an uncomfortable spot. That is what gets me excited.
You were married even before your first movie came out. While things are gradually changing now for the better, where married actresses are still ruling the B’town, it wasn’t so much in the early 2000s. How has the journey for you been so far?
It was definitely different. Difficult? Certainly. Like I said earlier, when you are married and have a family, things are slightly different, you know? But, to be honest, the industry has always been very encouraging and so were my fans. Even when I had taken a long break, they still supported me. The journey so far has been rewarding and satisfying. And, now, I just want to keep working.
How is life as a single parent? Does it become hectic?
Not really. I love spending a lot of time with my son. He is a growing boy and I enjoy playing different kinds of sports together. I feel really lucky when compared to mums, who have to go to 9-5 jobs. I can take time off as much as I want for him. He is my priority and is always in the back of my mind, and I don’t know if I could easily pull this off if I had a different career.
You have always been a crusader for ‘Brown is beautiful’. Do you think anything has changed in the last decade when it comes to beauty standards?
I feel it has changed a lot in the last 10 years. We are truly owning Indian skin, who we are, and our culture. Today, there are so many heroines, who don’t use products to look fairer and everyone is finally accepting that ‘Brown is beautiful.’ The idea of beauty has changed and is more real now, which is great.
Besides Gaslight, there is an interesting web series in the pipeline.