This is a beautiful moment in my life: Chhaya Kadam on her journey from ‘Laapataa Ladies’ to Cannes : The Tribune India

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This is a beautiful moment in my life: Chhaya Kadam on her journey from ‘Laapataa Ladies’ to Cannes

Chhaya Kadam, who is winning hearts with her stellar performances as ‘Manju Mai’ in “Laapataa Ladies” and gangster Kanchan Kombdi in “Madgaon Express”, says she came to acting late and by chance

This is a beautiful moment in my life: Chhaya Kadam on her journey from ‘Laapataa Ladies’ to Cannes

Chhaya Kadam (R) with Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao. Photo: Instagram/ @chhaya.kadam.75



PTI

New Delhi, May 16

Growing up, she wanted to be a Kabbadi player and then the dream shifted to opening a gym. Chhaya Kadam, who is winning hearts with her stellar performances as ‘Manju Mai’ in “Laapataa Ladies” and gangster Kanchan Kombdi in “Madgaon Express”, says she came to acting late and by chance.

Kadam is now looking forward to attending the 77th Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of Payal Kapadia’s “All We Imagine As Light”, which is part of the main competition. She is also excited about “Sister Midnight”, a film to be screened in the film gala’s sidebar section Director’s Fortnight.

“I am very happy. This is a beautiful moment in my life and I am enjoying it without thinking too much about what’s next,” she said about the audience appreciation for “Laapataa Ladies” and “Madgaon Express” as well as the Cannes selection of her two movies.

Kadam said she grew up in a Mumbai suburb called Kalina in a housing board colony and had different dreams at different points of time. 

“I was a state-level Kabbadi player, so I thought about going in that direction. After some time, it shifted to owning a gym or joining the police force because I had the physique... People start their journeys in schools and college by doing theatre, but I entered the profession quite late,” Kadam told in an interview.

The actor credits a workshop she did with theatre veteran and former National School of Drama director Waman Kendre in 2001 for changing the course of her life. 

“I started enjoying the process while doing the workshop. That was the beginning for me. People think it is easy to break into acting but it took me six years to do my first play. It wasn’t easy even after that but whatever came my way, I worked on it with complete honesty.”

After becoming an actor, Kadam said she dreamed about getting a National Film Award and featuring in a variety of roles but a festival like Cannes was not even on her wish list.

Manju Mai, a fiercely independent teaseller with a soft corner for one of the two heroines who gets lost in Kiran Rao’s “Laapataa Ladies”, has become something of a social media sensation with viewers sharing screenshots and dialogues on X and in reels on Instagram.

Kadam said she is surprised the character has resonated with not just the youth but also women of different age groups. 

“I recently spoke to Sneha Desai, the writer of “Laapataa Ladies”, when the film released on OTT. She asked me, ‘Kaisa lag raha hai? (How do you feel?)’ I told her that whenever I receive any praise, she comes to my mind because Manju Mai’s thoughts were shaped by her and Kiran,” she added.

While ‘Manju Mai’ was a well-formed character, Kadam said Rao left it on her actors to improvise and bring something of their own to the characters. Kadam said she picked up one of the character traits of ‘Manju Mai’ from an Uttar Pradesh woman who lived next door.

“Characters come ready-made to an actor. You have a sense of costume, status and nature by the script but you have to find its soul. It is easy but also difficult because you have to put yourself in their shoes and at the same time, make it truthful to the audience,” said the actor, who has also featured in films such as “Andhadhun” and “Gangubai Kathiawadi”.

‘Manju Mai’ from “Laapataa Ladies” and her first major role in “Fandry”, a film on caste discrimination, are characters that left a mark on her, said Kadam.

“Sometimes, I feel ‘Manju Mai’ was written for me. I have that woman inside me. I didn’t marry, somehow never got around to it and now I am enjoying living on my own. I felt ‘Manju Mai’ was also teaching me. I receive so many calls from women who were confused but now feel inspired by ‘Manju Mai’.

“Generally, I get to play women who have suffered a lot in life or had abusive/drunkard husbands. They are essentially the victims but Kanchan Komdi gave me a chance to play a ‘dabang’ character.”

She revealed initially there was another actor who was supposed to star in “Fandry” but Manjule always wanted Kadam to do the role. When the other actor pulled out, Manjule cast her.

After she comes back from Cannes, Kadam plans to take a small break and spend time in her village in Dhamapur in the Konkan region of Maharashtra.

“I am still hungry (for work) but when I will spend time there, I will empty out all the praise that has come to me and start from scratch. I don’t want to forget my initial hunger as an actor. People in my village are simple. For them, I am not Chhaya Kadam, the actor, but their Chhaya,” she said. 


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