Actors are always busy juggling, between not one but many lives. With their onscreen and off-screen characters constantly overlapping, sometimes it becomes quite the challenge to wade past the illusion that surrounds this profession. A case in point is Chitrangda Singh, whose last outing in Modern Love: Mumbai with Arshad Warsi gained a lot of positive responses for the simplicity of the story and her poignant portrayal of a character, which felt achingly real. She shares how girl pals have come up to her and told her about the instant connection they felt with her character in Modern Love. Says she, “My male friends have started looking at things differently after watching Cutting Chai. That’s how a poignant tale like that can make you feel. And that to me is a special moment.” Adding to it, she continues, “It feels good when even though you do less, people kind of remember your work. This I think is the biggest compliment for an actor. It just keeps you going.”
Chitrangda marches to her own beat and would not have it otherwise. To stay relevant is the key, to be remembered is the dream. She’s as excited about a five minute role as she is about a lead role. Her only criteria is that the project should offer something challenging to her and allow her in turn to offer something fresh to the audience.
She confides, “I’ll be honest. Bob Biswas is Abhishek Bachchan’s film to quite an extent. It is all about Bob Biswas. And Modern Love was even more difficult because it was a short film, but it just connected with the audience. I don’t think the screen time makes so much of a difference. It is your performance.”
She’s made a career of being selective and doesn’t regret her decision. “I probably am slightly selective,” she commented. “But having said that, I think every artist is selective,” she comments. It’s a bit of a cliche to repeat what you’ve done before. Then you just keep getting versions of that. So, yeah, I’m slightly selective and I try to do things that excite me.” Chitrangada likes to call a spade a spade. She doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind, even if it means courting controversy.
She’d rather walk out of a project than compromise on her principles. One such incident happened in the recent past and Chitrangada lays bare her reasons. She explains, “There are certain things that are within the parameters of being professional, and then there are certain things that go beyond that and become personal. When at work, something is personally disturbing you. I do my job as an actor on the set, but when the atmosphere is such that it becomes personally insulting, I think then I don’t even know if it’s me as an actor or as a person who takes that call, but you have to take a call.”
Not many know that the actress possesses more talents than one. She gets talking about the artistic side she has. She has been into charcoal and knife painting, a skill she inherited from her mother who used to paint. And she reveals she’s also a fashionista. What makes this chat all the more interesting is how she is truly in awe of none other than Sonam Kapoor Ahuja for her impeccable fashion sense. “Sonam just transforms into another character with every outfit that she picks up. It’s just amazing how she experiments.
I think she understands fashion, the complete idea of it.” The actress then reveals her style mantra. She points out, “Anything effortless, anything which is simple and elegant, whether it’s beauty, whether it’s a person or the clothes. That is something that sticks with me. I think that’s my kind of thing, where less is a bit more.”
We chat about the character she found the most fascinating when it comes to costume design. She excitedly mentions her character Maya from Inkaar. “I got into the nitty gritty of the costuming in that film and collaborated a lot with the costume designer. I was playing this very focused career woman and wanted my costumes in the film to reflect that choice,” she regrets. In her upcoming movie Gaslight which also features Vikrant Massey and Sara Ali Khan, the actress again conferred a lot with the costume department about what her character should wear. “My character in Gaslight is completely different from what I am in real life,” she says. “That hugely excited me as I knew it’ll give me a chance to experiment with clothes. Everything that she would wear would become part of the character and that scene. So that is why I thought, okay, this is how we can make her more stern, or this is how we can make her more sexy or sensual or in your face and put you off. I had a lot of fun. And they paid attention to my inputs.”
She sure had a blast with her Gaslight co-stars. She beams, “They’re both very natural actors. Vikrant, we all know how good he is. And Sara, I was so happy that we were working together. She’s like the energizer bunny. You have to contain her energy literally. But she’s such a lovely person. I had an amazing time working with them.”
That’s what probably makes her filmography so interesting, for her co-stars have always been so varied, making the experience richer. Ask her to name one co-star she enjoyed working with the most, and she instantly names Akshay Kumar for all the fun he brings on the set. She speaks warmly of him and of his considerate attitude on the set to raise his co-star’s confidence. She fondly remembers the late Irrfan Khan with whom she had worked in Yeh Saali Zindagi. She shares, “I also learned a lot by just watching him on the sets. How he’d improvise, how he made sure that you looked at no one else but him in the scene. You wouldn’t look at the other characters. It’s just a trick for an artiste that I guess you learn over time. So Irrfan was amazing.”
As we near the end of this tete-e-tete, the actress reveals her vision of what would truly challenge her as an actor. Needless to say, like most talented artistes, comedy is what she feels would truly make her test the craft she has brewing within her. She says, “It’s easy to make people cry. The tragedy is easier to sell, always. But it’s difficult to make people laugh. You need amazing comic timing.” We’re sure that being the actor she is, Chitrangda will effectively pull that off as well. Filmmakers, take note.