She’s here, there, everywhere...

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Radhika Apte

Radhika Apte is here, there and everywhere. Her career has abounded in multiple mediums — theatre, films, shorts, web series, and at the moment, she is even making a splash on social media. Not to forget regional and international films.

So what’s her 2018 score like? Well, it began with Pad Man, Akshay Kumar’s home production, which was a decided hit. Also, there is AndhaDhun and Bazaar. And on Netflix, she has been part of Lust Stories, Scared Games and Ghoul

The actor has also starred in the US-produced and yet-to-release-in-India fantasy thriller directed by Ben Rekhi, The Ashram, and has shot for British director Michael Winterbottom’s film The Wedding Guest earlier this year.

Radhika’s track-record has an impeccable variety that is again organic because that’s been a part of her persona — doing roles she finds exciting and interesting, convention be damned. “I just want to do good work,” she tells you seriously. “I take up anything interesting. But, yes, certain choices are conscious, like avoiding typecasting for myself, doing films of commercial value, some for the roles, some for working with a director, and some for the script. When a role, script and director all are good in the same film, it’s great.” she grins. 

But the net result is her branding as an actress who often makes daring and unconventional choices (Badlapur, Parched, Manjhi: The Mountain Man), is not averse even to nudity, and is least bothered about the length of her roles.

She accepts that the title of her next film, AndhaDhun, is not a proper word but a mix of andha (blind) and dhun (musical composition). “My director, Sriram Raghavan, and our team, could not think of an apt title for this thriller in which there is as good a twist every five minutes. At that point, we had even shot a hilarious video of all the titles we had thought of, like ‘Shoot The Piano Player’ and even ‘Billi Ka Badla’.’’

Nevertheless, Radhika says that the script was fantastic and that Sriram Raghavan is terrific. “I had hardly got to work with him in Badlapur because my role had been small,” she notes. “I have this habit of feeling discontented with working just once with good directors. I want to have more experiences with each. Like I would love doing a proper feature with Anurag Kashyap, with whom I have supposedly formed a team, but in reality, have done only three short films. Anurag Basu too was incredible and I am waiting and wanting to work with him again.”

AndhaDhun was thus one of those films in which everything came right together. “Ayushmann Khurrana was amazing — he has made such great choices in his career. Tabu is someone whose films I have grown up watching,” she says. But what is her role? “I play a happy Pune girl,” she says, mysteriously, unable to reveal more. 

Gliding so effortlessly between so many mediums is something she has mastered for long. But does she find acting in them differently, and is her acting pitched on the same scale every time, in every role, even within one medium?

“To answer your first question, I am shooting across films, web series and short films, so what does it matter? Yes, there is some difference in pitch sometimes, which comes from understanding that the demand from me is different. One standout difference comes when I am enacting a song, in which a different level of acting is needed. Sometimes, I have to ask myself, ‘Am I the same person who is doing the scenes of this film?’ It feels unnatural, different, but you know why you are doing it.”

Radhika recently stated in an interview that she was dissatisfied with work. Why in heaven’s name was that when her career graph is so wide-ranging? “No, no, I did not mean that I was not satisfied. I just meant that I want to do much more,” she says, having begun her affair with the screen 13 years earlier with Mahesh Manjrekar’s Waah! Life Ho To Aisi as the leading lady Amrita Rao’s sister. 

 She grants that her work has been both appreciated and criticised. “I need that balance, and I take criticism more seriously just because I anyway have a problem with appreciation. And, I am always intimidated by performing a character. I never think, ‘I can do this easily, man.’ As an actor, you need to be open to failure, or you may not try different things. It is okay to fail.”

Though she had done Badlapur with Varun Dhawan, Pad Man was actually her first big commercial film. Did doing this film make a difference to her career in any way? With complete honesty, Radhika replies, “I don’t know. It must have. See, I was shooting for Michael Winterbottom’s film in January and wasn’t even here. Pad Man was to come in March, and I had even blocked my promotion days for it. But then, for certain reasons, they decided to bring its release forward.

However, be it Manjhi: The Mountain Man or Pad Man (as she puts it), she does feel, “I am getting somewhere when I fly Economy and they come and take me to the other class,” she smiles.

What are the kinds of films she herself loves to watch? “I have grown up on Dil, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and all of Aamir Khan’s films — I would never miss any, “ she replies. “Then I went on to Shah Rukh Khan movies. Then when I was introduced to world cinema, I began watching a lot of films. Today, we are making so many kinds of movies.”

But she has never done a comedy yet. “Yes,” she says, wide-eyed. “You know, I would really like to do a comedy, and I am looking for one.”  What kind of comedy would she like to do? “Definitely the subtle and not the in-your-face kind,’’ she says.

So, will she plan her career from now on? She answers, “I think life gives you better surprises than what you plan.” 

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