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Badhai Do For This Arunachal Actor!

By ANITA AIKARA
April 04, 2022 09:24 IST
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IMAGE: Chum Darang is very proud of her roots.
She hopes to make people fall in love with Arunachal Pradesh through her stunning reels.
All photographs: Kind courtesy Chum Darang/Instagram

While people in B-Town keeping fussing about avoiding carbs (rice in particular) and hitting the gym regularly, Chum Darang is guilty of obsessing over rice and staying away from exercise.

"When I'm not acting, I cook and eat, cook and eat," she laughs. "I am a rice person and can have a lot of rice."

Going by her lean frame, one would like to believe that it is not how much Chum eats, as to what she eats.

"Living alone in Mumbai has taught me to cook," she admits, adding that she has a weakness for spicy food -- the chillies that we get in Mumbai can't match up to her liking.

"I like to have a lot of rice, kimchi pickle (that she gets from Arunchal Pradesh), boiled dal and vegetables. My mouth is watering just thinking about it."

Chum doesn't like fried stuff. "Even back home, for meals there'd be a chutney, something lightly stir-fried, mostly boiled, and rice.

"The rice we use at home comes from our farm," she adds.

Chum's grandfather was a farmer. Her dad works in a bank, and her mother was a nurse.

"I come from a very simple family, " reveals the 30 year old who is the first actress in her family.

Chum wasn't sure if she wanted to pursue a career in acting or become an entrepreneur.

That is one of the reasons why she made her Bollywood debut at 29.

The founder of Cafe Chu in Pasighat, she is the second born of four siblings -- the eldest is a teacher and she has two younger brothers, one runs a dental clinic and the other is still studying.

Watch Chum Darang sing.
Video credit: Afsar Dayatar/Rediff.com

"When I was growing up, I was a tomboy. I used to love to wear my brothers' clothes. However, things changed when I was in the 11th grade. I was approached by someone to participate in a beauty pageant. That's when I was really fascinated by the beauty world."

In 2018, Chum decided to come to Mumbai and try her luck in Bollywood.

"I'm still struggling," the Asia Miss World Runner-up 2017 admits candidly. "Because this is a phase that never ends."

In an interview with Anita Aikara/Rediff.com, Chum Darang speaks about falling in love with Mumbai and why she'd love to head back to Arunchal Pradesh someday and embrace her love for farming.

Is it true that you've acquired a celebrity status of sorts back home post Gangubai Kathiawadi and Badhaai Do?

Yes, and it feels so awkward at times. I still feel that I'm dreaming.

I can't tell you how happy I am.

My journey was definitely not easy, but I made it here.

There has been not one negative message for my character Rimzim from Badhaai Do(Chum played a lesbian who is Bhumi Pednekar's love interest).

That is the beauty of the film, it touched every person with the right intention.

Indian cinema has evolved, and better and bigger things are coming for all of us.

I had no inhibitions playing Rimzim. It was through the character that I learnt a lot about the LGBTQ community including the challenges that they go through to find love and acceptance.

I felt that I could connect with the character. It will always be very special to me.

As human beings, we have so many thoughts about love, but most importantly, at the end of the day, the universe has created all of us equally and the emotions count. How, why, what doesn't really matter.

IMAGE: Chum doesn't see her role in Badhaai Do as something unconventional. 'It is up to us to normalise these topics.'

You have set an example for people back home.

In my hometown Pasighat, there are no theatres. I got to learn that there is one opening soon.

My family had to travel three hours to watch the film. Still, they went twice, especially my mother.

When I first told them that I was selected for the role (Badhaai Do), my parents were very proud of me because nobody from my family has done something like this.

It was a matter of pride for them, and for me as well.

It was also about setting an example for others from my region to come here and try their hand at Bollywood.

It is about believing in yourself. If I can do it, anybody else can do it as well.

The whole state is very proud of me. I have been home twice after the release of the movie and I could feel the pride in the people's eyes.

You also run a cafe in Pansighat.

Yes, it is called Cafe Chu.

Why the name Cafe Chu?

One day my mom called me and informed me that she was applying for the food license of the cafe.

She wanted me to come up with a name quickly.

I couldn't think of anything, so I named it Cafe Chu.

It also sounds like 'you'. Personally, I love to cook and hosting people.

The cafe was just a random idea that worked.

Right now, for more than a year, I have been away from home. So my brother and his friend manage the cafe.

Chum speaks about life during the lockdown in Pasighat.
Video credit: Afsar Dayatar/Rediff.com

 

Was it easy making Mumbai your second home?

It has been almost four years since I have been living in Mumbai.

I love Mumbai a lot. I learnt to be independent here. Back home I was very dependent on my parents.

Now that I live alone, the city has taught me to take care of my own battles.

I am not a foodie, but I love home-cooked food. I don't like stepping out much.

I left Mumbai in May 2019. I was in Delhi with my grandmother.

That's when I call a call from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's office asking me to audition for Gangubai Kathiawadi.

My grandmother didn't know how to use a smart phone, still she managed to shoot my audition clip.

I got selected for the role and that's when I came back to Mumbai in December the same year.

IMAGE: This photograph was taken during Chum's trek to a waterfall 10 km away from her hometown.

Do you have a retirement plan?

I would love to go back home and farm.

Back home, we have a farm where we grown rice.

My mom has a beautiful kitchen garden and we don't buy vegetables from outside.

Farming is a calming activity for me. It is my retirement plan.

I'd love to go back home, farm and chill.

Life in Mumbai is so fast, you don't know how time flies.

At home we go to sleep around 9 pm, wake up early in the morning and start our day by 6 am.

Even though it is a slow lifestyle, it is very healthy.

Any advice for youngsters?

Keep believing in yourself and your dreams. Things will happen.

Never give up on your dreams.

It is very important to know what you want in life -- there will be so many people telling you do this and do that -- but you need to decide what you want to do and how you'll make it happen.

Keep things clear in your head and always have 2-3 plans. If one doesn’t work out, the other will.

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ANITA AIKARA / Rediff.com