On the show of Lilette Dubey’s play ‘Kanyadaan’ one face remained etched in my memory. Backstage I asked Lilette who that remarkable actress was and that was my first introduction to Radhika Apte.
Natural, girl next door but intense that’s Radhika for you and if there’s one quality about her that is unique, it is her ability to reinvent herself in each role whether in theatre or on screen. The actress’ agility perhaps owes itself to her training in Kalaripayattu and dance, both Kathak and Western and it transcends into a sinuous sensuality as seen in the much acclaimed AHALYA. Infact, dance has been her obsession…
“Both my parents are doctors, but I’m passionate about dance and have always wanted to act since I was a child,” she says. It was this passion that took her to London to formally study Laban Movement Analysis, a methodology to study human movement, in London for a year. SHOR IN THE CITY and RAKTA CHARITRA introduced Radhika to Hindi film audiences but, as she explains, “I went to
London for my dance course right after RAKHTA CHARITRA and SHOR IN THE CITY, so I didn’t have any releases in two years.”
Was it because she was disappointed with the response to these two films? “That’s not correct. SHOR IN THE CITY did get me a lot of offers in the commercial space, but I went to London even before the film released. I really wanted to learn dance and was so much in love with what I was doing that I wanted to finish the course.”
And it is only with BADLAPUR that Radhika got the recognition… “It’s true, I got the maximum attention with BADLAPUR. Actually, BADLAPUR was my first release since I returned from London. SriramRaghavan did such a brilliant job with the film and it had such a good cast that the film got great appreciation. You know, it’s so strange, I just shot for six days for BADLAPUR and I never thought the film would get me such response. Casting director Mukesh Chhabra asked me to meet Sriram. I was apprehensive about auditioning for the role because I’m very bad at auditions. I never get a role if I audition for it.
Fortunately, Sriram didn’task me to audition; he straightaway offered me the part. Then we had a lot of meetings and discussions on how I would approach the role. I improvised a lot and it’s all to Sriram’s credit because he brings out the best in an actor in a very quiet way. It was a small part and I wasn’t even part of any publicity so the response took me by surprise. I’m trying not to get overwhelmed with all the attention. All this love and adulation come so abruptly and also go so abruptly, it’s better to just keep calm and keep working.”
So how did it all begin? Did she struggle at all? “I started with theatre in college, got into experimental theatre, then regional films came my way and then Hindi films and dance followed, and now I’m back to acting full time. Well, I did my bit of waiting around and not getting call backs. I remember, initially, when I moved to Mumbai from Pune, I just didn’t like the pace of the city. I went back to Pune after seven months. Even now, I don’t think my struggle is over. Maybe, now people know me and I get offers but I don’t always get to do what I want to do. I think, success has a different definition for everyone and for me it is about reinventing myself everyday.”
This streak of reinvention sees her acting in Telugu, Hindi, Bengali and Marathi films and she feels she isn’t bound by a language. “I was offered RAKTA CHARITRA, which was shot in Telugu and later dubbed in Tamil. After that I got a film (DHONI) with Prakash Raj and I absolutely enjoyed working with him. I have always been a fan of Prakash sir as an actor. I think because he himself is such an excellent actor, he is very sensitive towards other actors as a director. He gave me my space and let me improvise with my own thoughts, with respect to the character.
Also, as I was new to the language, he helped me understand the meaning of all my lines and then learn them, instead of just mugging and getting help from an AD with his prompting. After a Telugu take we did the Tamil one immediately and there were times when I had a monologue and just one shot. It was difficult but he was extremely patient with me and supported and trusted me throughout.”