She Has Got The Glow
Not just chart-topping, champagne drinking, Bollywood bubble riding glamour…something deeper and demure…elegant but bold, a kind of classical beauty. Like out of the imagination of a writer, she is graceful. Songs are written about women like her, the golden undertones of her skin and the natural pout of her lips. Through the 15-hour shoot that commenced, she remained so full of energy that it surprised us enough to stop complaining and keep working. In the chaos of her entourage, lights, camera and our team, she remained calm…nibbling on a plate of chopped apple.
Time and again she has been compared to the late actress, Smita Patil. To this she says, “It will always be a huge honour, because not only is she so iconic, but also my mother’s favourite actress. Though sometimes being compared to such an icon also means you can be pulled down too fast like you are not good enough but then I take it with a pinch of salt. There will always be opinions.” In a fairness-obsessed industry crooning about gora gora rang, Chitrangada has not only survived but crashed into India’s popular consciousness as the face of several cosmetic brands.
When she entered the studio, we were won over by her warmth. She is a celebrity after all, she is allowed to be arrogant, divaesque carefully guarded by her staff. But there she was in a tee-shirt and jeans, casually introducing herself with a smile. Later in the car, she spoke about how comfortable she is being informal and boho. She said, “I am so casual, I don’t even wear heels but I have to tell myself that wearing heels is part of my job. Otherwise I am a tee-shirt, sneaker person.” From a flea market to Louis Vuitton, she likes to mix and match her wardrobe.
As she settled into her chair, her laid-back repartee with make-up artist Shaan Muttahill assured that she was ready to experiment with the new short hair-do that we wanted to do.
In all the scurrying between shots, each time Chitrangada passed us by, a whiff of subtle sensuality surrounded her. Turned out that she is quite the fragrance fan. The classical notes of her personality continued when she admitted to being a one perfume woman. “I usually buy something I really like and even before I finish it, I buy more bottles. I like the fact that when I open my cupboard, it smells of the perfume that I like.”
Five films and several ad campaigns down, Chitrangada Singh is a well known name. She made her debut with the critically-acclaimed Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi in 2005 and was conferred with the Young Women Achiever Award in 2009. “That was so unexpected and I also thought it came too early. But I think Hazaaron…had that kind of effect on people. For some strange reason, a lot of women especially, related to the film and I think that made a huge impression.”
She appears to have chosen her films carefully, slow but steady doing quality cinema that etches an indelible mark on the viewer, “There are a lot of factors involved,” she explains. “Mostly it would be the part being offered to you and the director. But sometimes it is more than that, the banner is so good or the people involved are so good, the backing of the film is such that even if your part is not that good, you would still do it. It’s like you would want to work with Aamir Khan, because no matter what you do in that film, you would still stand out just because he does that kind of cinema.”
Off the sets, spending time with family, chances are she can be found being the enthusiastic wife behind the successful golfer, Jyoti Singh Randhawa. With a brother who is also a golfer, even though she is more a follower than player, she takes sports seriously. “I am a tennis addict on TV. I love golf, I guess it comes from living with a sportsman, you learn how to appreciate the effort more. So I enjoy watching them. I make it a point to keep my four-year-old son outdoors as much as possible. I take him for squash and he loves golf so he enjoys spending time on the golf course. ”
Between Delhi where she lives and Mumbai where she works, it can be quite the clashing of temperaments. “I think every Delhi girl would want to be a Mumbai girl. It’s a great environment to work in, so free and professional, there is a great energy about this city. Delhi is more about power and corporate people which is really not me, so I think Mumbai is more suited to my calling. Delhi is so much about brands, shoes, bags while Mumbai is easier, a jhola could be cool here. People accept you for who you are, ‘chalta hain,’ while in Delhi, they judge you first and then they treat you accordingly. Especially since I come here to work, this city becomes about work, new ventures.”
The Meerut girl never did quite think acting would be her vocation. “From as long as I can remember, I loved to dance. It has always remained a passion. I may not have a hobby that I get to do regularly because of the busy schedules, but dancing always de-stresses me. More than anything, I think it is the relief of being alone that works so much for me. I love going back to Meerut which is my hometown. It is so quiet, you can hear the birds sing. Sometimes, we still get power cuts there and the peace and quiet simply overwhelms me.”
But films did happen and so did acting and awards. “I thought I would do musicals, travel and dance. I had only done one music video where someone had seen me and the same man was helping Sudhir Mishra with the auditions in Delhi and suggested my name. Sudhir was not interested because he was only looking for theatre actors, he didn’t want the ‘model types.’ My first audition was terrible. I was laughing too much. Something must have clicked because they called me back for another round and this time, it was just me. Otherwise, on the first day the hall was full of people and I was thinking, ‘you must be joking!’ My sister was in National School of Drama, so I knew the difference.”
Not realising that the difference lay in the consciously confident stance and the completely classical aura.
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