Off screen, she is a vociferous campaigner against sexual abuse and gender discrimination. But when on screen, acclaimed performer Richa Chadha doesn't want the "burden" of imparting social messages, a responsibility she says belongs to political leaders.
"I don't want to do this flag-bearing thing. Cinema should not have the responsibility of changing society. Sure, you should make good films which have some meaning and lead to something positive for someone, but one doesn't want that burden," Richa told during a tete-a-tete during a visit last week.
"Sometimes, you just tell a story instead of looking for what lesson it imparts. We should look for messages from our political leaders whom we elect as our representatives, and not from actors," added the 30-year-old.
Are our politicians giving out enough meaningful messages?
Zero came the pat reply from Richa, who added: "And this is something that unites them, whichever party they may be from. They are not inspiring, and that's why the youth of today is more inspired by cricket stars, film stars or athletic stars."
Having said that, she admits films, filmmakers and artistes have a responsibility.
"We shouldn't do unethical things, like we shouldn't show women in bad light, or even show a particular community in a bad light, or sing stuff like 'Hum kaale hain toh kya hua…'. Don't do those things… (But) There should not be an unnecessary burden. Like when we tell a story about a murderer or con man, we are judged for glorifying crime. But we're really just telling a story."
Richa, who has made the Hindi film industry sit up and take notice of her craft with movies like Gangs Of Wasseypur, Fukrey and Masaan, however, says celebrities must take on the responsibility of doing their bit to champion a worthy cause.
She feels Hollywood actors can "afford to" take time off films and other projects to indulge in philanthropic works, but in India, actors are always in a hurry.
"I wish we get a system of royalty or something that secures actors and artistes. Artistes are self-sponsored — at least the outsiders. They have to worry about rents, family and liabilities. So, in that space, whatever you do, is appreciated, and people are doing it," she said, citing superstars Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan as examples.
Any specific area that she would like to contribute to?
"Child abuse and education. What happens with you in childhood shapes you for the rest of your life," said the actress, who finds Hollywood actress Demi Moore — her co-star in upcoming film "Love Sonia" — "very inspiring" for pursuing her movie career alongside supporting multiple charities.
That Richa tries to do her bit in changing mindsets came across through two small gestures during the chat at a city hotel.
First, when she asked the hotel's staff for a fresh cup of coffee in a cup already used by her. "Just use the same cup, I like to save water," she said.
And second, when another staffer addressed her as "Jee sir" when she asked for a glass of water.
"Main sir hun (Am I sir)?" Richa asked, then commenting: "See, how minds are conditioned. This is why we need forums to discuss the changes we need."