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Richa Gangopadhyay (born Antara Richa Gangopadhyay on 20 March 1986) is an Indian film actress, model and former beauty queen. After appearing in commercials, she made her film debut in the 2010 Telugu political drama Leader. Since then, she went on to win critical acclaim for her role in Nagavalli and commercial success with her role in Mirapakaay. In 2011, she starred in her first Tamil film, Mayakkam Enna, receiving positive reviews for her performance.
father works as the COO of Netshape Technologies, while her mother works as a Director of Education at The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit. Her parents settled in the USA in 1989 after spending her first year in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, with Richa being brought up in Pennsylvania and Michigan. While attending Okemos High School, she was featured in the local media for founding a youth-tutoring program for at-risk children in Lansing, which she ran for four years.She went on to major in Dietetics and Health Administration at Michigan State University, Michigan.
Early career and modelling, 2005–09
In 2005 and 2006, Richa began participating in beauty pageants and finished in the top ten in the Miss India USA competitions, winning a smaller prize for Miss CongenialityIn August 2007, Richa won the Miss Michigan pageant and in December, she was crowned Miss India USA 2007 at the 26th annual pageant held at Royal Albert’s Palace in New Jersey. During the competition, she also secured the title of Miss Photogenic and qualified to represent USA in the 17th Annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant held in Johannesburg.
Richa left the USA in 2008 to Mumbai, India to embark on a career in films. She subsequently graduated with a diploma in acting from Anupam Kher’s acting school, Actor Prepares, and completed her portfolio, earning offers for work in fashion shows and for modelling. In early 2009, Richa featured in a commercial for Vatika Almond Hair Oil alongside Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, while she also worked as a model for Peter England, Malabar Gold and Kalaniketan in the period.
Breakthrough in films, 2009–present
Richa was signed on to portray the lead role in the 2010 Telugu film, Leader produced by AVM Productions and directed by Sekhar Kammula. She was recommended to an assistant director of Leader whilst at a gym, who in turn recommended her to Sekhar Kammula. Richa moved to Hyderabad and auditioned for the film on her birthday. She was selected instantly and shooting started 2 days later. In the film, she played the role of Archana, a CEO of a TV channel and a daughter of a politician who falls in love with the title character, played by debutant Rana Daggubati. The film opened to positive reviews and did well commercially, with Richa’s performance described as “pretty and charming” and “good in a performance oriented role” by critics. After the success of the film, director P. Vasu signed her up to appear in Nagavalli, a sequel to his 2005 film Chandramukhi. The film featured an ensemble cast of Venkatesh, Anushka Shetty, Shraddha Das and Poonam Kaur. During the production of the film, Vasu was initially unimpressed and Richa has revealed that he had planned to drop her from the project. The film also opened to mixed reviews, with Richa’s portrayal of a girl psychologically possessed by the ghost of Nagavalli, leading to critics dubbing her as “impressive” and “convincing”.
Her first release in 2011 was the action film Mirapakaay also featuring Ravi Teja and Deeksha Seth in lead roles. She was signed after the director of the film, Harish Shankar, had noticed her at the success party of her previous film Leader. He initially offered her the role played by Deeksha as she was an NRI, but when they met to review the script, he was convinced that Richa would do justice to the character of Vinamra, a traditional Brahmin girl. The film opened to good reviews with Richa’s performance being described as “just about okay” by critics.Richa was next seen in two Tamil films; the first being Mayakkam Enna, a drama film based on marriage featuring Dhanush and directed by Selvaraghavan. Furthermore she signed on to appear alongside Silambarasan in a leading role in Dharani’s Osthe, the Tamil remake of the 2010 Hindi film Dabangg. In 2012, she made her debut in Bengali, her mother tongue, through the film Bikram Singha : The Lion Is Back opposite the prolific Prosenjit Chatterjee, a remake of the Telugu film Vikramarkudu. She is also shooting for a Telugu film Vaaradhi which will be released by mid-2012.