by ASJAD NAZIR.
RADHIKA APTE REVEALS HOW SHE IS FEARLESS AND DRIVEN BY CHALLENGING PARTS.
NO INDIAN actress has been on a bigger roll than Radhika Apte in 2018 and even though
it’s only October, she should already be given woman of the year in Bollywood.
The Bollywood actress has had commercial hits in diverse projects and received universal
acclaim for her performances in various roles. The big successes have included the Hindi
movies Pad Man and Andhadhun, the Netflix series Sacred Games and a premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival with acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom’s latest feature, The Wedding Guest.
THIS week, the rapidly rising star continues her remarkable run in 2018 with a starring role
in Bollywood film Baazaar.
She plays an ambitious stockbroker in the financial drama, which reunites her with Sacred
Games co-star Saif Ali Khan.
Eastern Eye caught up with Radhika to talk about acting, her amazing year, Baazaar and
her hopes for the future.
At the beginning of 2018, I predicted that you were the one to watch. Did you expect such an amazing year?
I don’t know and I did not predict it. People think this is the best year I’ve had and it’s true
in a way because I had six projects that were released this year, each different from the other. I got to showcase these varied parts in a particular amount of time, which obviously is so amazing.
But having said that – apart from one or two projects – I didn’t get the satisfaction of being
on set all the time or really feel like I worked my ass off for something. I was part of some
really brilliant projects this year, all of them actually, but feel my parts were limited.
You were noticed in all the projects and added gravitas to them?
I know smaller parts can make a difference and I tried my best. What I most enjoy is being
on set for two months, going back home and feeling, ‘oh my God, I have worked so hard’.
But I hope this is just the beginning.
Have you had time to enjoy your success?
I don’t know what that means because I am someone who is wanting more and as I said,
this is just the beginning. I want to do more work globally, to be honest.
It has been a dream to be a part of world cinema or a world platform, breaking the barriers
of country, language, race, everything. I think there is way more to do than what has
been done and hope this opens doors for me to make my dream come true.
Do you have a master plan because you seem to be making all the right moves?
(Laughs). I don’t know, Asjad. I have never thought about my moves or made a plan. But
my ultimate wish is to be able to work across countries and to do more challenging parts
that will inspire and affect me as a person and enable me to grow.
Also, I know that failure is a big part of it. I don’t want to be scared of failing. The moment
that happens, you will refuse to take risks. So, I am looking forward and really hoping that
more doors open and I get to do what I want to.
Would you describe yourself as fearless?
I do hear that a lot and you are right. I think I am fearless in the sense that I am not chasing an image. I am not afraid of any kind of platform, project or role. I am open to being vulnerable and taking up any roles that I feel are exciting.
My criteria is that it should challenge and make me feel excited, rather than any box office success. In that way, I am fearless, for sure, but the inherent insecurity you have when you are in the freelance business, and where, being a performer, you know that you have to
keep challenging yourself to improve.
You can’t fall short in your efforts and that is there.
How do you approach a character, because every performance is so natural?
For some characters, we do a lot of background stories. On the sets of Parched with
Leena Yadav, we made a memory bank for the character, which was truly a gift, in the sense that it helped me so much.
So I try to make a memory bank of the characters I play, because it is tiring to constantly relate it to your own experiences.
I think the key is empathy and you need to know where they come from, and what they do. So I try to believe in that moment where it has happened.
I think my biggest inspirations have been the directors I have worked with. I try to surrender completely and believe in their vision or what they are feeding me. And, I
work with faith.
You put a lot into your work. Do the roles affect you emotionally?
Actually, they don’t, because I am good at switching off. But, I think emotions are so fundamental and they are the ones that connect you to any human being.
You have a second movie being released this month after a hit with Andhadhun. How does it feel?
(Laughs) I know, right? And it is very scary. There have been a lot of promotions going on in the media and sometimes, you do get overwhelmed by it. Again, Andhadhun and
Baazaar, both are so very different. So to have these two films being released in the same month is great, in a way.
What did you like about Baazaar?
I was cast in Baazaar more than a year ago. This is a mainstream film compared to the
other movies I have done. I was badly typecast at one point, and nobody would put me in a very mainstream, glamorous role. I am talking about these terms in a conventional way, but not what my definition of glamour is. I felt the character in Baazaar broke that – it was a challenge and a new experience to sort of incorporate that style, glamour and kind of
film making that I am not used to.
Tell us about your role in Baazaar?
So, I play this city girl who works for the stock exchange and is extremely ambitious.
Somebody who does not want to think about the past or present, but just wants to
think about the future, and be very driven by it. Then whatever comes with it. The pluses
What was the experience of working on The Wedding Guest?
I can’t talk about it too much, but it is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I have been a massive fan of Michael Winterbottom for a long time and was so thrilled to work with him. He has a unique way of filming; I can’t compare it to anyone else. It is all about the film – we work eight hours just on that and with a very minimal number of people on set. He is very, in a good way, obsessed with what he is going to do on that day. He is focused and concentrated, and I love that way of working. I do not like to take a lot of breaks and when people take their own time to do things. I like to be at it and that was really great. Also, Michael is somebody who doesn’t do anything in your face and there is
no information, nothing given to you just for the sake of it. It’s very subtle and I enjoyed that a lot.
Do you have a dream role?
I don’t. I think life offers you even more surprises and probably much better than what we
dream of or think of.
The expectations around you rise with each project. Does that put pressure on you?
(Laughs). Oh my god. I just like to not think about the pressure because when you are on set, doing something, you need to stay in the moment. Otherwise, if you are not present, when people watch it, they won’t connect with you. So, I try to not take the pressure.
You are a trained dancer. Will you return to that?
I would absolutely love that, although it has been four and-a-half years that I have not danced at all. What I need is training, for sure.
You are busy, but what are your passions away from work?
I am soon going to take a break. I like to travel, read and spend time with family and friends.
Finally, what inspires you?
To be honest, human beings inspire me. You meet so many people every day, and sometimes you don’t even understand how consequential that meeting is. Every person has an impact and a different story. It is such a chaotic world, this industry, basically, because everyone is working at a crazy pace, and you meet so many creative people; that is where I draw my inspiration from. Someone who is doing fantastic works and coming up with some amazing scripts and you wonder where this comes from and it also keeps challenging
- Baazaar is in cinemas now.