The beautiful, smart and accomplished actress, Ritabhari Chakraborty, talks to Editor-in-chief, Aparajita Jaiswal in a freewheel chat about her latest film Fatafati, which is centred around body positivity. The actress excitedly exclaims that the film is in her mother tongue, Bengali. With the shooting wrapped up, the film is due to release in merely a few days, creating much anticipation in the minds of Ritabhari's adoring fans.
The film is about a plus sized or rather a double XL model's journey and how she breaks the norms of “fashion” that we believe in; that women should have a certain kind of a body to be in fashion. The film talks about how girls should not measure their happiness and health by the stereotypical body shown in films. Ritabhari excitedly says, "this is the project that I'm currently looking forward to the most and want everybody to also look forward to with me."
With an industry that is so unbelievably hard to make a mark in, each artist faces the trouble of understanding and bearing with the process. Ritabhari gives her perspective on the matter. "I think anyone who's starting off in the industry, in the film industry, the first thing you should know is acting. A lot of people think if you look good, if you're pretty, if you have a certain presence, that that's enough to become an actor. Trust me, that's absolutely not true! The first thing you need to know is how to act, second is you need to know that there are going to be days when you have no work and you have to be okay with it when you see your other friends, your colleagues people of your profession who are getting jobs when you're not as much patience is the key. You have to know in advance that there will be days when you just have to be patient and believe in yourself.
"Thirdly, you have to carve your own path of whatever success means to you, whatever you are meant to do as an actor because every actor is different. Every personality is different. If you're aspiring to be Katrina Kaif, you cannot be Katrina Kaif because she is her. If you're aspiring to be Alia Bhatt, but you cannot be Alia because she is her. You have to aspire to be something that's original. That's the only way you can be seen and heard by people, because when they already have an Alia Bhatt who is so incredible, why would they want another one?," Ritabhari says correctly.
Ritabhari played a woman priest in the film Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti, a film that focused on menstruation and how when are not impure. "I think I get personally attached to all my roles. My last super hit film, Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti, where I've played a women priest, broke so many norms as it spoke about menstruation and how women are not impure. The film broke such taboos, giving so many women the platform to become women priests. This is something that will always be very close to my heart, so I think I'm very attached to my character Shabari."
Ritabhari talks about the challenges one might face in the industry, one of them being comparing yourself with others, their successes and their journey. "I think when everyone is doing so much that you tend to compare yourself and your journey to other people, and I really feel like that can be a real heartbreaker and a real problem in your way because your journey has to be yours. If you keep comparing yourself, you'll never be happy and you'll never be grateful for the work you are getting.
Ritabhari is a riveting book enthusiast. Her inspiration spans from Indian and Loiuse Hay to Shonda Rhimes’ book “The year of yes" to Shonda Rhimes as a producer, writer and Oprah Winfrey but especially her mother. As an actress, she looks up to Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra amongst many more. "Deepika Padukone is such a huge inspiration. Priyanka Chopra, the more you say, you still turn up short. Women in the business are surviving through this patriarchal and hard business. I get inspired by women every single day."
Ritabhari Chakraborty adopted the Ideal school for the deaf when she was merely 16. She expresses how it has been a life changing journey as it keeps her grounded. Ritabhari strongly feels her purpose is more than being an actor and she feels proud to be the mother of 84 children. "When I was a kid, I realized that I can technically change the lives of these children and took it up and I'm so glad I did. This is one thing I'll always be proud of. More than how grateful they should be or they are of me, I am more grateful to be their parent, their foster guardian because being their foster guardian means that I get to make changes in the lives of all these kids. I get to see them grow up and become something of their own. And they're so alienated in the society deaf children are as they have the toughest time adjusting to the world and to people, everyone else. They made me one of their own and that makes my heart melts. I celebrate everything with them, all festivals, my birthday, all of it. This is a blessing; God blessed me in the biggest way possible."
Ritabhari Chakraborty comments on body positivity and says one need not fret about their body type whether it is healthy or skinny. We should be proud of our bodies as its god given and hereditary as well. As she works for a school for the deaf, she realises just how important it is to have everything functioning just right. It is a miracle that we have bodies that breathe for us and function correctly. Looking at movie stars, magazine covers and celebrities makes us think that that is how we should look. She believes it is important to break that mentality.
Additionally, Ritabhari sends her love to all her fans, "Thank you so much for loving me. Thank you so much for being part of my journey and the life I lead, what I do, my achievements, my failures, all of which I put in front of you and you get to see. One of the reasons I do not shy away from anything, whether it be posting about my health conditions or mental health issues on social media and talking about it openly in interviews is because I want you to know I’m a human. I'm flawed just like you and I'm perfect and amazing just like you. So if I can inspire even a small margin of people, women especially, to be themselves, work hard and achieve their dreams, I think that would mean a lot to me."
Women in the business are surviving through this patriarchal and hard business. I get inspired by women every single day.