News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Movies » 'Oh My God! We've Done Something Great'

'Oh My God! We've Done Something Great'

June 06, 2024 13:21 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'The real change will happen when more powerful roles come to me.'
'I am looking forward to that change.'

IMAGE: Chhaya Kadam in Cannes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Chhaya Kadam/Instagram

It's a breakthrough year for actor Chhaya Kadam.

She has been working steadily in Marathi and in bit parts in Bollywood, but it wasn't until this year that Chhaya became a name with critical recognition and widespread adoration.

In Laaptaa Ladies and Madgaon Express, she proved that sometimes the best performances in a film come from its most unexpected roles.

Fresh off that success, she headed to the 77th Cannes Film Festival with not one but two films -- All We Imagine as Light and Sister's Midnight.

All We Imagine as Light scripted history by winning Director Payal Kapadia the Grand Prix that put her name on the global map alongside the film.

Chhaya, who plays a pivotal role in the film, was visibly moved to tears as the audience erupted to give a standing ovation in a thumping response to the team.

Since then her phone is buzzing with congratulatory messages and interview requests -- something she had never experienced to such a volume in her 15-year-long career. Interestingly, she did not have a slightest clue that the month of May would be so eventful for her as she had planned a month-long break to spend time with her family.

Back from the surreal experience of Cannes, Chhaya is currently enjoying every bit of her newfound success.

"When I started my work, I was told by an industry director that there are no roles for someone of my age. Either you have to be very young or very old. And he said that I don't fit in either bracket," Chhaya gets reflective about her journey in a phone interview with Mayur Sanap/

It took you almost 15 years to have this moment of spotlight. Do you feel you've finally arrived?

Yes, I feel that it has come in the course of my life. Most good things have happened pretty late to me.

But all my struggles are worth it if the end is so good.

I have never planned my path, whatever came my way I made sure to do it with best of my ability.

Let me tell you, my audience has been loyal to me since the beginning. They loved me and my work. My recent work has introduce to a new lot of audience.

Have you taken a break to enjoy this moment or you are already back at work?

No, I am currently enjoying my spare time at home.

My brother, sister-in-law and their kids came to Mumbai in May for a holiday. I had left a full month reserved for them.

And suddenly the Cannes news came to me and I was away from them.

Now that I am back I am doing interviews and other things. I might have not been able to do this had I given my time for shooting.


IMAGE: Chhaya Kadam, second from left, Kani Kusruti, left, Payal Kapadia, second from right, and Divya Prabha, right, at the 77th Cannes Film Festival Photograph: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

While your performances were lauded in two Cannes films, people also got to see new Chhaya with your fashion moments on the red carpet and interviews. Did you have fun with that? What was the idea there?

(Laughs) For me Cannes was only about fashion during all these years. I had seen those huge gowns and lavish clothes.

So when I told my friends that I will be attending Cannes they asked me if I was wearing a gown too.

Initially I was not comfortable with the idea (of doing fashion). But then I spoke to some of my friends and decided to hire a stylist.

I wanted to look stylish and comfortable, and also showcase my individuality.

I took it as a big responsibility on myself, because I was not going to represent Mumbai or Maharashtra, we were there to represent India.

I have been working for so many years but this is the first time I was seeing myself like this. I enjoyed it a lot. Now I feel why didn't I do it before? (Laughs)

Can we say fashion is the new skill you have acquired? Are you going to continue with it?

No! While I enjoyed it, I must say it is very tiring. It is not easy at all.

The girls who like it, it is easy for them.

I don't think I'll ever be able to keep up with it, except maybe on a special occasion.

IMAGE: Chhaya at Cannes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Chhaya Kadam/Instagram

You are also quite active on social media, especially on Instagram.

Yes. Everyone was telling me that I should build up a social media presence.

I am not used to this, (but) when you are in this profession, you can't say no to certain things.

I manage my Instagram and I am learning how to enjoy it. It helps me to communicate with my fans.

I opened my Twitter (X) account right before going for Cannes, but I haven't posted anything there yet.

I constantly tell myself now to spend a lot of energy on social media, because it is quite time consuming.

You wrote a beautiful post in memory of your mother. What do you miss about her?

One of the dreams that remained unfulfilled for me is that I could never take on a plane journey.

I had hoped to do that, but she left me (Chhaya's mother passed away in August last year).

So I felt like I should wear her sari and wedding nath (nose ring) as her memory with me. And that's how I took her with me to France.

IMAGE: Chhaya with her late mother. Photograph: Kind courtesy Chhaya Kadam/Instagram

Who all are there in your family? What do people from your hometown in Konkan think of your success?

We were five siblings, but my two brothers passed away. My father also died years ago. My mother and I used to live together in Mumbai. I am alone now.

For me, my friends' circle is my go-to family. My house is always filled with my friends.

People are happy that their Chhaya Tai is a part of the film that created history. I am very happy to see they are celebrating my success.

You said in an interview that only you could play Parvati in All We Imagine as Light. Can you elaborate on that?

Sometimes when you hear a character you get an idea how much you can contribute to it as an actor.

When I heard about Parvati (her character name) from Payal I thought that I had seen all these things in my life. I told her that I only could do this role.

It was not out of arrogance but just the fact that I had experienced most of the things that she goes through in the film.

IMAGE: Chhaya with Amitabh Bachchan and Nagraj Manjule on the sets of Jhund. Photograph: Kind courtesy Chhaya Kadam/Instagram

You have played a character of a small-town, abrasive woman in many films before. Do you think it's time the film-makers should re-imagine you?

I feel that every artist wants to do something different.

I'm always hungry for a role that's different from what I did previously.

And honestly, there are different reasons to pick a project every time.

Sometimes I like the role. Sometimes the length of your role is short but the script is interesting. Sometimes you do a film out of favour because the director is a friend. I have done films like that too.

And sometimes, an artist picks a project when he or she is out of work for many days, just to remain busy.

Right now, I am waiting for the opportunity that would challenge me more. But if it doesn't come then I will select from the four or five projects that typically come to me, and I will try to do something different in it.

Do people confuse your real self with your on screen firecracker persona?

People who know me well would say that I am very sweet and simple in my real life. Some would also say that I am a nagging person.

But I will tell you one thing, I do not make people feel that I am an actress so you treat me in a certain way. That is why person connect with me more.

Some people come to me thinking oh she must be like Manju Maai (Laapataa Ladies), Kanchan Kombdi (Madgaon Express), Chandrakka (Nude), Suman Akka (Sairat). They think I must be very strict as person.

But after talking to me for a while, that notion goes away. They feel like I am their own.

IMAGE: Chhaya back in Mumbai from Cannes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Chhaya Kadam/Instagram

Are you happy with the way film-makers are imagining unconventional roles for women?


When I started my work, I was told by an industry director that there are no roles for someone of my age.

Either you have to be very young or you have to be very old. And he said that I don't fit in either bracket.

This happened right in the beginning of my career.

When I was leaving his house, I decided that I would never meet this person again in my life.

Thankfully these things don't exist anymore.

The audience wants to see real stories of real people. It is no more about just the hero and heroine. There's work for all kinds of actors.

You are having such a fantastic year and we are only halfway through. What new changes do you hope to see happening next?

The fact that I am giving eight interviews in a day is little new for me (Laughs). This is a good change.

Indian cinema has achieved such a big recognition. Seeing these people celebrating our win makes me very happy. When I look at them, I say, 'Oh my God! We have done something great.'

The real change will happen when more powerful roles come to me.

I am looking forward to that change.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: