The coronavirus pandemic, in these last one and a half years, has completely turned around the way we live, confining us to our homes and making technology our only source of communication. Locked up inside those four walls, and scrolling on our screens through the chaos unfolding outside, acts of kindness and compassion have become the only source for hope. Amid this crisis, Bollywood actress Richa Chadha, along with her family friend Krishan Jagota launched an online initiative, The Kindry in an attempt to celebrate random acts of empathy.
We caught up with the duo on their initiative, who gave an insight into their work, their view and how it is different from enforcing toxic positivity on people.
Can you tell us more about the initiative, whose idea was it? Was there any particular incident that pushed you guys to do this?
Richa: The kind of news that makes it to the newspaper, especially to the front page is often news that is negative, and alarming. Especially during Covid times, I found that this was the news that was getting the most amplified. I felt it was doing something to our collective consciousness in the sense that if you are opening the paper and only looking at bodies floating in the Ganga and endless funeral pyres it is going to have an impact on you. For that reason, I thought I would do something which is not rooted in fake positivity like unicorns and very fluffy things but things that people around us, who were working hard to make changes in society, were doing. I wanted to amplify those stories and the idea was essentially born from there.
Can you say something about the work process?
Krishan: Different communities of artists, of celebrities, of actors, of poets, of musicians, they are all joining hands, and saying how can we use our skillset to help amplify the stories. We are trying to redefine what a ‘hero’ is supposed to mean. When we start sharing these stories, we give inspiration to people to continue doing good work. Currently, we are an Instagram brand, we are also setting up a website where people can send stories to us, and we eventually hope to build things together with the community. People like Richa and Ali (Fazal) are helping amplify these stories of everyday heroes.
How do you ensure that people do not mistake it for just another way to push toxic positivity?
Krishan: While I call it an Instagram page, the way we are using it is very different. We are not doing just posts. We are rooted in real human conversations and real human connections. Recently, Richa covered a story of a lactating mother who offered to breastfeed stranger’s children during the pandemic. We invited that woman as our guest on an Instagram live session, had a heart to heart discussion, actress Kriti Kharbanda joined, amplified the voice, the story behind and what inspired the individual to do so.
Richa: We are not making stuff up, we are relying on news portals to give us info about real-life individuals about doing cool, brave things, people who are using their presence of mind when they don’t have money to donate, people who are selling their bikes and cars, people who are just wanting to be of service in tough times. We are just highlighting those people.
People often accuse Bollywood celebs of not doing anything to help. Now that you, being a part of the mainstream are doing something, how do you deal with this generalisation and remarks?
Richa: Honestly I just can’t keep up with the remarks because the truth is that you can never keep all people happy. It is ridiculous because on the one side you have people who are opposing you for your political views and saying rubbish about you and on the other side are people who are like oh but why don’t you cancel this one? There is an equal amount of ruthless whataboutery that goes on, on both sides, and if you have to do good work you have to not listen to it. If I have to run a successful initiate with Krishan, we have to build a community of like-minded people, we have to build consensus.
You guys recently celebrated World Music Day, and keep having sessions for Pride month. you have a very diverse lineup…
Richa: As a progressive, safe space for people to talk, we will have all kinds of events.
Krishan: The Kindry is a very inclusive space. Anybody and everybody are welcomed, as long as their intentions are to help each other, and as long as their heart is in the right place. We are going to include all people despite any of the biases we see around us, and that is why you see the diversity. As far as the artist community is concerned, artists love to find a purpose in their art. I think it is where they find meaning in their voice and that why there is a natural co-existence because kindness is what is common in all these artists and all the everyday heroes that we cherish and celebrate.
With your other ventures, does all this work get overwhelming? How do you manage?
Krishan: My work is not the usual 9-5 job. For me, work is super creative, super inspiring and always connected to the stories that happen around us. At the end of the day, we are a part of the bigger community and I am just a very small part of it. I don’t look that this vs that, rather they complement each other.
Talking of work, when can people expect Inside Edge season 3?
Richa: I think very soon. We released the poster recently and it will be coming very, very soon.
And your upcoming films?
Richa: I have a few films in my kitty. One is an action film, one is a psychological thriller. I did a show called Candy which will be releasing soon. When filming resumes, I will be working with Tigmanshu Dhulia for a show called Six Suspects, and then Inside Edge 3, Abhi Toh Party Shuru Huyi Hain, then hopefully Fukrey 3, so yeah, quite a busy year ahead.
The pandemic and lockdown delayed your wedding plans (with Ali Fazal), so have you decided anything on that front?
We haven’t been able to come to a decision simply because we have to be responsible citizens. Weddings are a mass event and I don’t want to be a super spreader. So for that reason, I don’t think it will be anytime soon. Till we have some clarity, I don’t think we can have it anytime soon.