Home » EXCLUSIVE: Chhaya Kadam on working with Kiran Rao, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Alia Bhatt

EXCLUSIVE: Chhaya Kadam on working with Kiran Rao, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Alia Bhatt

by Sanika Ratnaparkhi

In light of her recent win, we sat down with Chhaya Kadam for an exclusive interview wherein she gave us insights about her journey and the lessons of working with renowned directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kiran Rao, and others.

Actress Chhaya Kadam is receiving much-needed praise from her fans worldwide for her outstanding performance. Following the Grand Prix victory of her film All We Imagine as Light at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, she became the talk of the town. The actress was also seen in a few other blockbusters, like Laapataa Ladies, Madgaon Express, Gangubai Kathiawadi, Nude, Sairat, etc. Recently, we sat down with her for an exclusive interview where she shed light on her career, her experience working with renowned directors, and her process for the role of Manju Maai, a much-loved character from Laapataa Ladies.

People have appreciated your character, Manju Maai, from Laapataa Ladies. What’s your takeaway from her?

Whenever Manju Maai appeared on screen, she consistently taught something to everyone. I got to learn a lot from her, especially her philosophy of “Khudke sath akela rehena bohot mushkil hota hai.” In today’s world, women are embracing singlehood; some do it out of their choice, while others are made to do it. It is important for women to be self-sufficient and enjoy their own company. People have also appreciated Manju Maai’s dialogue and her philosophy of life. I think this is the power of cinema—to build characters like these and tell their story.

You have mostly played the role of a fierce, courageous, and self-sufficient woman onscreen. Why do you think directors have offered you such roles?

People usually go with their first impressions, and I believe my first impression to be like that. Many of them also say fierceness, strength, and honesty are visible in my eyes. At times, I have to tell people I am not always like the characters I play on screen. 

You have worked with renowned directors like Kiran Rao, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Nagraj Manjule, Ravi Jadhav, etc. They all have different styles of direction; how was your experience working with them?

It was a wonderful experience, and I let myself completely loose in the process. Bhansali sir made me do the same scene with different emotions. After several takes, he used to tell me what to pick up from each take, and then I used to give the final take likewise. He is someone who lives cinema. Kiran Rao is an extremely down-to-earth and humble person. Above all, she is a good human being. Also, the Hindi industry is very respectful towards Marathi actors, which makes us valued and appreciated. And when it comes to Marathi directors, Nagraj Manjule has helped me grow; he gave me the courage to fight the truth. Meanwhile, Ravi Jadhav is nothing less than a true friend to me.

You have worked with Alia Bhatt on the sets of Gangubai; what was it like to work with her?

Initially we didn’t talk much, but then one fine day we were doing a rough rehearsal on the set when Alia praised me; she said, “Aap kamaal dikh rahe ho screen pe Chhaya ji.” There are very few people who praise you in front of others; Alia is one of them. On the work front, I appreciate her dedication; she gets into the skin of the character. Because of her age and background, it might have been difficult for her to portray Gangu, but she played the character very well. I was mesmerized. She has proven herself time and again and made us understand that nothing like nepotism works in the long run. In order to survive, your talent should speak.

Apart from this, the All We Imagine as Light actress gave us more insights into her famous ghewar scene from the Laapataa Ladies movie, which has been making several rounds on social media. The actress revealed that it was the last day of shooting, and they wanted to wrap up the scene quickly. She added that while performing the scene, she never thought it would touch so many hearts. Lastly, she said the scene had no dialogue, and hence she liked it even more; it gave her more room for acting. 

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