Radhika Apte: Why is a North Indian playing Laxmibai, if a Maharashtrian can’t play a North Indian?
Actor Radhika Apte talks about how she was told, in the early phase of her career, that she couldn’t do North Indian roles. She now questions how a North Indian — that would be Kangana Ranaut — can play the role of Rani Laxmibai. Artists, she adds, shouldn’t be restricted.
Actor Radhika Apte has now become a name to be reckoned with in the film industry, thanks to her films such as Badlapur (2012), Pad Man, and the talked-about web series Sacred Games. But in 2010, when she was just starting out, the 32-year-old actor was hemmed in by stereotypes, which, according to her, were nothing but hypocritical.
“Initially, when I started, I had a few issues. Like [people] constantly used to tell me that you can’t play a North Indian, because you are a Maharashtrian. And now, a North Indian is playing Laxmibai,” she says, referring to Kangana Ranaut playing the role of Jhansi ki Rani in her upcoming film, Manikarnika. “So, why is it the other way around that you have a problem with?” asks Radhika.
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The actor, who was born in Vellore (Tamil Nadu) but brought up in Pune (Maharashtra), feels that one shouldn’t restrict artists. “We’ve had North Indian characters play South Indian characters. But that’s good. That’s how it should be. Actors shouldn’t be restricted on the basis of where they come from, and [be] cast on that basis,” says Radhika, who has played the role of a military interrogator in the web series, Ghoul.
“Of course, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into preparing for such characters. For example, if I’m playing a Punjabi character, wouldn’t I work for two months to learn the language, and other little details of [being] a Punjabi?” she adds.
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The number of years in the industry have taught Radhika to be a stoic. “Sometimes,” she says, “it makes sense that directors want to cast someone who’s from that region. They might bring more to the table, because they belong to a specific area. So, you shouldn’t take things personally. A lot of times it happens that, when you don’t get a role, you say, ‘Why did I not get that role?’ Because that role was written for someone else, and you shouldn’t take such things personally. I’ve done a lot of roles for which I wasn’t the first choice — it went to someone else first — and I’ve got a lot of success like that.”
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