Richa Chadha on ‘Inside Edge’ and the reason why Bholi Punjaban from ‘Fukrey’ clicked

‘Men loved her because she is powerful and scary; women love her because she is a complete badass.’

After nine years, a bunch of accolades and some setbacks, Richa Chadha seems to have mastered the trick of keeping her audiences interested in whatever she does. The actor from Gangs of Wasseypur, Fukrey and Masaan has been applauded for her performance in Inside Edge, Amazon Prime Video’s first Indian drama. The series, directed by Karan Anshuman, is set in the high-stakes and scandal-ridden world of the Indian Premiere League. Chadha plays an actor who owns a team and has a tell-tale fringe and a volatile personal life (Preity Zinta appears to be the reference).

Chadha has moved away from the disappointment of her first solo project, Cabaret, being indefinitely postponed. She is looking ahead to the releases Fukrey Returns in December and Jia Aur Jia, a road trip movie with Kalki Koechlin. In a conversation with, Chadha reveals why Fukrey Returns is an important film for her and how streaming platforms have come to the rescue of storytellers.

‘Inside Edge’ seems to have been received well. Were you expecting this?
Well, no. I thought only people in India who follow cricket will watch it. But Inside Edge is now one of the most watched shows on Amazon Prime. I guess people who don’t watch Hindi entertainment shows or cricket have also liked it. Nobody in the team had expected this in fact, and now they will have to work doubly hard to come up with season 2, if that happens.

Would you ascribe the show’s success to the way it serves up cricket, glamour and scandal?
I have a theory about this. People who don’t watch Hindi entertainment channels or don’t watch cricket have watched and liked this show because it is original content. Our parents were lucky with good shows on TV, like Buniyaad, Hum Log, Circus. It was the golden age of television with directors experimenting with great scripts and concepts. That went away and we were left with only adapting to what currently works at the box office.

Even in my years of prominence in Bollywood, I have seen how the business has changed. It is no more about jubilees but the first weekend collections. There is a serious dearth of good content at home or even at the theatres, that is compelling enough for people to step out of their homes or watch something on television for anything longer than 30 minutes. When you give audiences something like this, they are willing to binge-watch.

Inside Edge (2017).

Your character in ‘Inside Edge’ is a star who owns an IPL team and fights the odds to stand her ground. It is obviously based on Preity Zinta. Has she contacted you or the makers of the series?
It is a strong character, very nuanced writing of a woman who is insecure but is also very happy inside. I had to get inside an actor’s head to get it right.

Preity Zinta has not contacted me. I do not know her socially, though I have been a huge fan of her work. And I don’t think I can call her up and talk to her about it either. If she feels it is based on her, it is not for me to say. But I don’t think a real person’s life would have such a dramatic turn of events. Having said that, I don’t think I did a bad job of it.

How are streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon helping Indian actors and filmmakers? Are they better platforms for original and edgy ideas?
Absolutely. When I signed up for Inside Edge, people were sceptical – why are you doing TV? I had to explain to them this is not TV. Why are you taking a chance with your career? We are now taking to audiences that binge-watches American shows for three or four hours at a stretch on streaming platforms. Even our films cannot match up to them.

Now that the series has worked, I stand vindicated.

Fukrey Returns (2017).

With ‘Inside Edge’ working out and ‘Fukrey Returns’ ready for a December release, you must be over the disappointment of your solo project ‘Cabaret’ missing its release date repeatedly.
Cabaret was an experiment. I was upset but convinced myself that there must be a divine explanation behind the film not releasing. I cannot take responsibility for the distributor and exhibitor nexus, and don’t have a say in the matter. Over time I have learnt not to get upset with these things because at least I got paid. There are others who did not.

Why did Bholi Punjaban from ‘Fukrey’ work as well as it did?
For many reasons. I don’t remember seeing an empowered woman on screen who is intimidating, no-nonsense and still quite cute. She is not the stereotypical sasuma or jealous bhabi. She is not your Phoolan Devi or Manorama but an imposing vamp who scares the hell out of four grown men. That was really interesting.

But it was a comedy and we did not really read so much into the character at that time. It was not like in Masaan, where I was told my character left people all moist-eyed. Men loved Bholi Punjaban in a way because she was powerful and scary. And women loved her because she was a complete badass. They wanted to be like her.

How did you arrive at that conclusion?
A few months after the film released, I was in Delhi during the winter. I was still not used to looking at myself as a Bollywood person. I was having a hard time and was irritable as I was running errands for my mom. I was at a shop were a lady and her daughter came up to me and began to compliment me: beta, I wish I could answer my mom-in-law the way you did in that film.

I was stunned. I realised that decades of being repressed actually makes our women want to break out and use such foul language. And now the writer and director Mrig Lamba has written my character with more conviction and added more shades for Fukrey Returns. I am just happy with the way the film has turned out.

What’s next?
Other than Jia and Jia, there is Love Sonia, a crowdfunded project on human trafficking. It changed me. The back story of my character brought me closer to the ordeal that these girls and women have to go through. The abortions, living with HIV, drugs… If the film is able to induce some compassion towards these women, it would mean a lot to me.

Masaan (2015).
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Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.


Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.


The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

If financial drama is your thing, then block your weekend for Billions. You can catch it on Hotstar Premium, a platform that offers a wide collection of popular and Emmy-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Modern Family and This Is Us, in addition to live sports coverage, and movies. To subscribe, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.