In spite of being one of the critically acclaimed actresses in Bollywood, Chitrangada Singh took a break from the big screen. After a four-year hiatus, the actress is back in the industry making a debut as a producer with Soorma. The film starring Diljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu and Angad Bedi, is set to release on July 13. It’s also produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions and Deepak Singh.
While promoting the film, Chitrangada says that her role as producer has changed her outlook towards filmmaking. Excerpts:
Staying away from Bollywood
Chitrangada’s last big release was I, Me Aur Main which released in 2013. Post that, she did a couple of special numbers and briefly appeared in Munna Michael. There were various theories about her disappearance. So what was the real reason? Lack of good scripts and unconventional roles?
“I wasn’t getting the parts I was looking to play, nor was I getting interesting scripts. In addition to that, I was also in and out of the city for a while because I was working out some personal issues. To be honest, I wasn’t so much focused on my work at that point. So it was bit of both,” she explains.
She shares that when one is working in the film industry, one needs to stay focused and more importantly, be present all the time to get roles that might come their way.
The Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Sorry Bhai! fame actress says that the break she took taught her a lot of things. “A break definitely teaches you patience and makes you realise the need to be true to yourself. You need to give time to things that matter to you the most – be it your personal life or the roles you are looking for. I remember somebody had told me, ‘You are only relevant till you are working’. But I feel that if you do good work, you are relevant. You have to continue doing good work. Visibility and relevance are not the same and it’s important to create good work,” the actress points out.
Turning producer with ‘Soorma’
Donning the role of a producer, she says that it is paramount to believe in yourself. “When we were working on Soorma, there were a few challenges. Many biopics were being made, and not everybody was interested in another biopic. People didn’t know who Sandeep Singh was, and it was also about hockey. You have put all these things behind and believe in yourself. If you have good content, people will respect you for that. I am grateful to the industry for giving me so much acknowledgment in spite of not doing so much work,” she says.
The film will take the audience through former National hockey captain Sandeep Singh’s intriguing life journey, and his struggle to get on his own feet after getting paralysed for two years, when an accidental gunshot injured him. The actress shares that she had already started writing something herself and there were two stories which she was developing. Then she got the chance to meet Sandeep Singh through Deepak, who is also her business partner and got talking about his life.
“I knew he was the captain of the Indian hockey team, but beyond that I did not know what happened with him. After listening to him, I was blown away by his life story. In professional sports, it’s very difficult to make a comeback. Sandeep was in his prime when he got shot, but he made a comeback and became the Indian captain. He was faster than he was before in drag flick. That’s the reason I thought I had to make the film, no matter what,” she says, adding that she assured Sandeep that the film will be made in the correct manner.
“Sometimes stories have to be changed because of commercial reasons but I told him that I will make sure it stays true to his life. That’s the reason the story has not been dramatised. Everything is extremely real and nothing has been added to make it commercial,” she says.
Her contribution as an actor to the film
For actors who turn producers, at times the roles may overlap. While producing the film, did she bring anything to the table as an actor? She answers, “I wrote two scripts and went to Shaad (Ali). He liked it and came on board as director. Sony Pictures were already on board.
Though I have not written the screenplay, I have been part of the entire creative process, including the background score. That’s the kind of creative inputs a producer can give. We have worked together.”
She talks about what a fabulous job Shaad has done in connecting the film and how it was equally amazing working with Gulzar, Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy.
An actor goes to the set, does his/her job and comes back home. But as a producer, a person is involved in every department of the film from pre to post production. Chitrangada talks about seeing the industry in a new light as a producer. “My outlook has changed drastically because the kind of commitment a producer needs to have to do a project is immense. A producer is a part of the project from day one. I met Sandeep in 2014 and the film is releasing now. It needs a lot of commitment and perseverance. I have huge respect for producers now. Personally, I believe that the whole technical team is so important,” says the actress who recently made her television debut as a judge on Dance India Dance Li’l Masters.
Chitrangada has her plate full with two interesting projects as an actor lined up to release — Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 and Gauravv K Chawla’s Bazaar. Both the films have already created a lot of buzz on social media. Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 is the third film in the franchise and stars Jimmy Sheirgill, Sanjay Dutt, Mahi Gill and others. Bazaar stars Saif Ali Khan, Rohan Mehra and others. Talking about the films, she says, “Bazaar is a very urban story about the stock market. It highlights how games are played and scams are pulled through. It’s very gripping. Saif is playing the mastermind and I am playing his wife, a homemaker who is idealistic in her thinking, and that often results in clashes between them. There’s a twist in the end. Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 is very rural in its feel and texture, just like the previous two films. I am playing Sanju’s love interest and we both are new to the franchise. My character is a lovely girl and there is a certain kind of innocence about her love. It’s an unconditional love that my character has for his.”