These days, much is being said about heroines taking up ‘bold’ characters. Yes, it is heartening to see women in movies break away from the virginal angelic stereotype. But that doesn’t mean every woman character has to be ‘bold’. That again is a stereotype.
Also, being bold is not the same as being strong. What is important is to project a woman who is real: she can be shy or an extrovert, timid or loud, strong or vulnerable, a victim or a perpetrator. There are many dimensions to being a woman, and each needs to be explored. Also, going for a makeup-free look doesn’t make an actress bold, or the character she is playing any more real. The look really depends on the role. Glamorous women are also real women.
Movies nowadays are giving real women a shot. The line between parallel cinema and the mainstream is blurring, and the audiences are becoming more open to newer ideas. It is great to see movies like Piku or Kahaani, both of which have women protagonists, do great business at the box office. If actresses can manage to keep pulling the audiences to the theatres, the perennial problem of the wage gap between male and female actors will eventually begin to close.
But we still have a very long way to go for that to happen. Today, if a hero gives a bad film, his fans still throng the theatres. But a heroine needs a strong script to get the audiences to pay for the tickets.
There is another positive change that has happened. Actresses today have become more vocal about social and political issues in real life. The roles they are doing are giving them the opportunity to talk beyond costumes, make-up and co-stars. So people are seeing a new breed of socially aware heroines. This in turn is affecting the kind of roles they are choosing.
It will take society some more time to get comfortable with strong, outspoken women who have minds of their own. But you’ve got to do what you’ve go to do. I have always been an outspoken person and never really cared what society has to say about me or my choices. I was in a live-in relationship and my family was very happy with it, but some of the extended family thought differently, which is completely alright. That need not affect my decisions.
When some of my intimate scenes from Parched were leaked online, I learned about it while having breakfast with my husband. I was expecting this to happen anyway, and we both laughed it off. Why should people who don’t matter to me have a say in my life or my decisions? It is not about people’s perception of you, but about your own growth, both as a human being and as an artist.
*As told to Ananya Ghosh
Radhika Apte began her career with theatre and her turns in Badlapur, Hunterrr, Phobia earned rave reviews. She also made an impact with short films, Ahalya and Kriti. Apte took a stand against the male chauvinism plaguing the Telugu industry and more recently, she spoke unabashedly on nudity when intimate scenes from her award-winning film Parched got leaked online.
From HT Brunch, March 5, 2017
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