She was outstanding as the battered Lajjo in Leena Yadav’s Parched, which was a compelling and a provocative tale of four women (including a child bride) who decide to hit back at patriarchy, misogyny and gender violence prevailing in a remote and conservative desert village in Rajasthan. The film, which released in 2016, garnered critical as well as commercial success and with that beautifully-etched role, we definitely think Radhika Apte is now officially the Queen of Indie films. And mind you, she has no industry lineage to boast of.
It’s been more than a decade since Radhika Apte set foot in the industry and took everyone by storm, and her real strength lies in her penchant for choosing varied and substantial roles that she manages to deliver with a lot of ease, sensitivity and panache. Also, time and again, the sultry actress has been compared to actress Smita Patil and why not? This feisty actress has an eclectic body of work to boast of and possesses the same fearlessness to experiment, and a devil-may-care attitude, like Smita Patil once did.
Her penchant for regional language films
Hailing from Pune, Radhika Apte is not just another pretty face. For all those who didn’t know, this talented young woman studied mathematics and economics in college and then began her acting career with Aasakta, a theatre troupe in her home town, before dabbling into films. She made her debut with a brief role in Vaah Life Ho Toh Aisi after which she starred in critically acclaimed films such as Antaheen and Amol Palekar’s Samaantar, before RGV’s Rakta Charitra, Shor in the City, Badlapur, Hunterrr , Manjhi – The Mountain Man, Phobia and Parched came her way.
During her initial days in the industry, she received a number of mainstream Hindi projects but chose to work in some smaller, but interesting regional films such as Postcard, Vetri Selvan and Rupkatha Noy. She mentioned in an interview how she isn’t in the industry for celebrity-hood or glamour and when asked whether she has a natural acumen for languages, she first laughed and then stated, “I am not good with languages at all. But, I have great short-term memory, so I learn my lines really quickly. When you hear me talk in Tamil or Telugu, if not for a slight accent, you’d think I belonged to that state. And, my features help. I can be Tamilian or Bengali or Maharashtrian”.
She’s fearless when it comes to choosing roles
Radhika Apte is “unabashedly un-Bollywood”, when it comes to selecting roles and states how, “The film has to be challenging and exciting. I don’t like doing boring films. But, unfortunately, sometimes you choose films for the popularity or the money, to put it bluntly.”
In the interview, she also mentions how she is more content driven and that the lines between indie and commercial cinema is blurring. And when asked whether she wishes to work with the Khans, her reply was, “Not at all. See, if I get a film with them, I will do it for the popularity, but I will not go out of my way to get a film like that. I am not struck by any of that glamour or fame. I did not come here to become a famous Bollywood personality. I have been doing a lot of south Indian films, and they are commercially big and stuff, but honestly, I want to stop doing that”.
She’s a non-conformist
If you’ve seen her eclectic body of work, you’d realise she’s a non-conformist who’s always been pushing boundaries, come what may. She is one of the few actresses who have made a successful transition from big screen cinema to short films. And apart from films, Radhika Apte makes it a point to stand for various causes and is quite open about society’s double standards, when it comes to women. She’s also successfully sent across body positive messages and championed maternity rights through the Myntra ad, which went viral for the right reasons.
Breaking stereotypes, she is one bold woman who has no qualms about doing nude scenes in films and rather thinks it is justified if it is relevant to the plot. There have been times when nude clips of her films have been leaked online but this fearless lady with a devil-may-care attitude has always handled the controversies with utmost grace and maturity, which sets her apart from her contemporaries.
Winner of the best actor award at Tribeca 2016
She took the international film circuit by storm last year when she bagged the Best Actor in an International Narrative Feature award at the Tribecca Film Festival, and mind you, this is a first for any actor of Indian origin. The award was for a 20 minute segment in Anurag Kashyap’s Madly and Radhika Apte proved how she’s making some absolutely brilliant choices in her career. We’re looking forward to more such gems from her end.