Actor and producer Chitrangda Singh marked her OTT debut with the crime thriller Bob Biswas in 2021. The following year, in 2022, she headlined the short Cutting Chai in the anthology film, Modern Love Mumbai. Her portrayal of a middle-class housewife going through a moment of self-realisation in the film won her rave reviews. And now, she is all set for the release of her third OTT outing. Titled Gaslight, the murder mystery co-stars Sara Ali Khan and Vikrant Massey, and sees Chitrangda playing Sara’s onscreen stepmother.
Leading ladies playing mothers to younger stars onscreen has often drawn attention. But in a freewheeling chat with News18, Chitrangda tells us that she wasn’t worried about the dynamic she shares with Sara in Gaslight. “There was no apprehension about playing her stepmother. I played a mother in Bob Biswas too. My character had two kids in the film. But playing a character has to go beyond these things. As an actor, you have to be interesting as a character that you’re playing. We all look a certain way and that’s something we can’t change,” she tells us exclusively.
While Chitrangda acknowledges the fact that playing a mother back in the day proved to be detrimental to a female actor’s career, she is happy that times have changed now. “I wanted the part because it was so amazing! I don’t think it has anything to do with playing a mother to Sara or to the two kids in Bob Biswas. I think we’ve gone beyond that now. Yes, there was definitely a time when that did make a difference but I don’t think it makes a difference anymore,” she states.
The Desi Boyz (2011) and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 (2018) actor further reveals that she had auditioned for a role in filmmaker Mira Nair’s critically acclaimed film, The Namesake (2006), which was eventually played by actor Tabu. Speaking about how she wasn’t reluctant about playing a mother even in the initial years of her career, she says, “There was a point where I did The Namesake, the film that Tabu did. I had auditioned for it and we did everything to make me look like a 24-year-old’s mother as that is what the character progresses to. But it just didn’t work out. I can’t tell you how much I wished [to be a part of the film].”
Recalling how Mira personally reached out to her to explain her why she hasn’t been cast in the film co-starring Irrfan, Chitrangda adds, “Somebody else was auditioning me here and I remember Mira Nair got on a phone from New York. She told me, ‘I’m making this call just to tell you that please don’t think in any way that it is because you aren’t a good actor or it’s your performance why you aren’t getting the part. I just want to tell you that you don’t look like you could be a 24-year-old’s mother.’”
So, if being stereotyped isn’t a fear for her, what is? “For me, the greatest fear is not remaining excited about things. If nothing excites me in life and nothing makes me want to get up and do something or work hard, I would be dead! That would be really scary,” avers the 46-year-old.
Chitrangda might be collaborating Sara for the first time in Gaslight but her association with the latter’s father, actor Saif Ali Khan, goes a long way. She worked with him in Baazaar (2018) and was supposed to share screen space with him in filmmaker Sudhir Mishra’s Nawab The Nautch Girl And The John Company, which was eventually put on the backburner. Ask her about her experiences of working with the father-daughter duo, she says, “I laughed a lot more with Sara. I also quite liked working with Saif. As an actor, he’s very particular. He can give you twelve takes which are different and they would be only that much different because he’s so subtle as an actor. He brings in these little details and it’s amazing. When you see his performance, it looks very effortless but so much thought has gone into it. I definitely enjoyed working with him.”
Gaslight is directed by Pavan Kirpalani and produced by Ramesh Taurani, Tips Films Ltd and Akshai Puri. The film will be released on Disney+ Hotstar on March 31.
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