The 29-year-old actress came under the spotlight after playing a scared but protective wife in Sriram Raghavan’s revenge drama “Badlapur” and a liberal city girl in Harshavardhan Kulkarni’s “Hunterrr”, which earned her acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
Apte, a trained dancer, has worked in Marathi and Bengali films and it is only now that Bollywood is sitting up and taking notice of her acting prowess. Raghavan says she is uninhibited and willing to take risks, but Apte doesn’t seem too taken with all the attention around her. She spoke to Reuters about her films, Ekta Kapoor, and why she doesn’t mind vegetating without work once in a while.
Q: Three of your films released in 2011, but you disappeared to study dance in London. Do you think your Bollywood career would have taken off much earlier if you hadn’t taken that break?
A: I had decided to go to London and that’s when I was offered “Shor in the City”. I was already in London when that film and the others released. They wanted me to come down and do promotions and everything, but I was studying contemporary dance and there was no way I could spare the time. I have no regrets about that at all.
I had lots of offers and if I had been here and taken those up, I would have been in a different place. I don’t know if a better place or worse, but a different place. The thing is, I wanted to do contemporary dance for a long time. It broadens your perspective. I am glad I went.
Q: When you came back, did you have to scout hard for work?
A: I was getting offers even when I was in London. So I thought that when I came back, I would have this nice set of films all lined up for me. But when I did come back, they all got canceled for some reason or the other. I ended up spending an entire year doing nothing. It was a really difficult time, but I think I became focussed about becoming a film actor.
Q: What does the state of not working for long periods do to you as an actor?
A: A very close friend of mine told me once that it’s good to vegetate. I think it’s true for an actor. It’s good to take that time off – do other things. Also, I was doing regional cinema in the meanwhile, where offers were coming in. It’s only now that suddenly two films of mine have released that people have begun to take some notice.
Q: You’ve done a lot of lead roles in regional cinema, but in Hindi you’ve always been part of an ensemble cast.
A: I’ve grown up watching Bollywood. I had Aamir Khan’s posters in my room when I was a teenager. I want to do some dancing around the trees, but I won’t take everything that comes my way. It’s the same thing with regional cinema. I don’t want to say yes to everything, even if it is content-driven. I’ll be picky.
Q: Your character in “Hunterrr” was at the center of some debate. Do you think she had to have some sort of a past to offset the fact that the hero had several sexual partners?
A: If you look at anyone who lives independently and doesn’t go down the regular road, they will have a destructive relationship. Even when it comes to abortions – so many people go through abortions. My parents are doctors, and I know how many women have abortions. I think it’s common. Have I gone through bad relationships in my life? Many.
The thing is, we never show people who are real in our films. We show people with glorious skin who feel sad when a flower or something falls. They don’t have anything real in them which can make you say: “Oh, I relate to that”. Real people aren’t like that.
Q: Ekta Kapoor once said about you: “Who is Radhika Apte”? Did that statement hurt you?
A: (Laughs) I know. I was in London and there used to be stories about me going on dates with Tusshar Kapoor and all that. We used to laugh about it, until this ‘Koffee With Karan’ episode aired, and it was shocking, because I hadn’t even met her.
Whatever you take from that, you take from that. I can’t give away more. I didn’t react even at that time, because I didn’t know how this works. A lot of friends said I should give a statement, but I didn’t. I don’t even remember it anymore, except when I am with friends and we are drinking, and I say: “Hey, you want to see something funny?”
I met her afterwards, and we were chatting. It wasn’t awkward because it depends on how you take it. To each his own, ya. I know what that (statement) did to us, even if I don’t specify it.
Q: But that is a by-product of being in the industry, right? Are you wary of these things?
A: Yeah. I wasn’t so wary of that earlier, but now I am more aware. People here judge you constantly. Of course, I am still an outsider when it comes to the heart of it, when it comes to the people who actually run it. But Bollywood is also expanding now, and the people who are doing work which I find interesting are now my family. There are mixed feelings. It depends on which party or screening you are going to on that given day. That decides whether you are an outsider or not