She recently came under the spotlight with Badlapur. But not many know that Radhika Apte has actually been playing small roles in Bollywood for a decade now.
The actor, who has also dabbled in regional films and theatre, is now gaining ground in the Hindi film industry. After the release of her recent film, Hunterrr, she gets candid about her struggling days, what took her so long to get noticed, and more.
You belong to a Maharashtrian family in Pune. How did your parents react when you told them that you wanted to become an actor?
Nobody from my family is from Bollywood, but they are extremely liberal. They never told me what to do. However, they were a bit scared initially because of what one usually hears (about the industry). When I came here, I realised that it’s as good or bad as any other industry. Nobody exploits you unless you want to be exploited. As long as you know what you want to do, and you don’t want to ‘compromise’ on certain things, you don’t have to. I made some wonderful friends here and met some amazing people.
Was not knowing anyone in a new city a daunting task for you?
It was. The disadvantage in this case is that you spend a long time trying to get your first break. So, those years when you could’ve done a lot of work are actually spent struggling and waiting. Also, just because you get a film doesn’t mean that you will continue getting a great amount of work. The struggle goes on. Even today, all the actors that I am friends with, I know what they go through. But if you have contacts and your career starts early, you have more time in hand to make it big.
Your role in Badlapur garnered attention. Even Rishi Kapoor praised your performance on Twitter. Did you expect this?
The first reaction I got was, ‘Oh, we didn’t know you were in the film.’ After Shor In The City (2011), I took a long break and started studying dance in London, UK, so many people forgot about me. Even before Badlapur released, during the promotions, there wasn’t much I could reveal about my role. That worked as a plus point and it came as a twist in the film. So, I guess that sort of helped.
Was it difficult balancing movies in Bollywood along with other film industries and theatre?
I wasn’t doing a lot of work in Bollywood. In three years, I did five Hindi films, which is not bad, but it’s not like I’m constantly busy. I have plenty of time to do other work. Plus, I’ve been choosy about the kind of work that I’ve done in regional cinema.
When you entered Bollywood, what did you think were your chances of making it big?
I knew that I don’t have a mainstream Bollywood face. Until Badlapur, because of all the typecasting, nobody could believe that I could be offered glamorous parts in films. Now, I’m suddenly getting glamorous roles, and that’s really funny. But I don’t want to stop doing regional films. It’s not like I took up regional projects because I was sitting at home; I did them out of interest. And I’ll continue to do theatre too.