In the entire Indian entertainment industry, there are only a handful of actors who have successfully left their mark in films as well as the digital space. And when we talk about such actors, Radhika Apte unquestionably tops the list. From starring in small-budgeted productions like Hunterrr (2015) and Parched (2015) to headlining commercial potboilers like Kabali (2016) and Padman (2018) to delivering outstanding performance in digital series like Sacred Games (2018) and Ghoul (2018), Apte has carved her own niche everywhere. The talented actress is in the news once again, for her brilliant performance in filmmaker Sriram Raghavan’s suspense thriller Andhadhun, which rolled into cinemas on 5th October. A few days before the theatrical release of the movie, Eastern Eye correspondent, Mohnish Singh, sat down with the actress for a brief interaction. In this interview, Radhika Apte talks about her new release, how the success of her biggest commercial film Padman changed her, what kind of films she grew up watching, and much more. Excerpts…
What does the title Andhadun mean to you?
I don’t know actually. There were so many titles. There was a little video we did with titles. We had a list of titles. It was hilarious, actually. A number of titles everyone has come up with (for the film).
What is your character in the film?
I am a happy girl (smiles). Besides that, I cannot reveal anything. I play a nice, Poona-based girl in the movie. Once upon a time, I was really a happy Poona-based girl. Now the base has shifted. Now I am a happy Bombay-based girl.
You are doing some terrific work these days. Everyone is saying that you are here, there and everywhere. Is it just a coincidence that so much of your work is coming out one after the other?
It is a coincidence, and it’s also not like that it’s not real. I mean, it’s true. After Andhadhun and Baazaar, I have three releases this year, three web releases. So, it’s quite a lot to come out. But it was not by design. Padman was supposed to come in January. Love Stories was a small film wherein I shot for just three days. Earlier, it wasn’t supposed to be a Netflix release. Ghoul was a film which we shot two years ago. It also released as a miniseries on Netflix. Andhadhun was supposed to finish and release last year. It’s just coincidently happening that everything is coming one after the other.
Plus, getting trolled was not my idea. (Referring to the incident where trollers trolled Netflix for having too much of her on Netflix originals). Netflix is using that for marketing is also not something which I was a part of. It blew it up more than what it actually was, which is why everyone is like, “You are everywhere. You are omnipresent”. They fed you marketing and everyone bought it. Good for me, though.
Radhika, your knack for script selection is really brilliant. You have sort of maintained a perfect balance between niche and commercial cinema. Is that a conscious decision?
If I find something interesting at that point in my life, I normally take that up. Certain choices are of conscious, like when you need commercial viability, when you want to sort of try to do something different which you don’t get very often, etc. So, choices are based on that. Mostly, you need to feel excited about a project.
Your film Padman with Akshay Kumar is the biggest commercial hit of your career to date. How had the success of the film changed the actress, Radhika Apte?
I am sure it must have. But I don’t know how to feel it. I really don’t know. Let me tell you that I was not even promoting the film, unfortunately, because we were supposed to release the movie in March, and I had blocked my dates for promotions accordingly. In Jan, I was doing another film. The dates were not going to move. But then Akshay and Rajinikanth sir’s film (2.0) got pushed and the Jan date got empty and Akshay knew about it, so he was like, ‘It’s a great date to release – 26th Jan’. They preponed the release, so I could not come. I was absent for the entire promotions and whatever happened afterwards.
But I do feel that films like Manjhi: The Mountain Man (2015) and Padman (2018) have got bigger reach. I just get treated specially when I fly in economy and the crew members take me to the other line because they feel people will recognize me. That’s when I feel I am getting famous (laughs).
Radhika, what kind of films you grew up watching?
I grew up watching films like Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992), Andaz Apna Apna (1994) and Dil (1990), and many more.