It’s been a great year for Radhika Apte.
After winning rave reviews for her performance in Pavan Kirpalani’s Phobia as an artist suffering from agoraphobia, she was named Best Actress at the Tribeca Film Festival for her role in Clean Shaven, directed by Anurag Kashyap (it is a part of Madly, a six-part anthology film about love). Radhika’s Shirish Kunder directed short film Kriti, in which she played Manoj Bajpayee’s psychiatrist has also been talked about.
Now all eyes are on her big Tamil commercial entertainer, Kabali, which releases on 22 July. Directed by Pa Ranjith, Kabali had Radhika playing Rajinikanth’s wife.
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, the elusive actress opened up about Kabali and a lot more.
Radhika, it’s been a great year for you so far.
Yes, I’m happy with the way things have been unfolding as (there’s been) a lot of appreciation for my work in Phobia, Kriti; and now Kabali is releasing this Friday. To be paired with Rajini sir is truly incredible and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Why were you chosen as heroine opposite Rajinikanth, who normally has glamorous leading ladies from Bollywood: Aishwarya Rai (Robot), Deepika Padukone (Kochadaiyan) and Sonakshi Sinha (Lingaa)?
To be frank, there were no mediators or casting agents who normally ask, ‘would you be interested in doing a big south film with Rajinikanth?’ The director of Kabali, Ranjith called me directly and said he wants to cast me and asked me to come down to Chennai for a narration. I found the character that I play in the film, Kumudhavalli, has a lot of depth and her relationship with her husband, the don Kabali played by Rajini sir, is the pivot around which the story develops. I signed the film immediately as I’m a big fan of Rajini sir and also the director’s earlier film, Madras, impressed me a lot.
How did you cope with the language and lip sync? Was there any prompting by assistant directors on the sets?
There was no prompting, the lines were given to me in advance. I learned my lines, as it was written in Devanagiri and an assistant helped me to get the lip sync correct, though I have not dubbed for the film.
How was it working with Rajinikanth?
I had a great time working with Rajinikanth. He is truly inspiring and an amazing person. He is so committed and a total professional. When I first went up to meet him, during the initial photo shoot for the first look posters, he was waiting outside his caravan to welcome me. Which star would do that? Of course first I spoke to him in Marathi and later we conversed in English and Hindi.
In the film you play mother to Dhansika, who in real life is as old as you are…
Kabali is not the usual commercial film. It is a subject-driven film, well etched by Ranjith in which I have a solid role. I’m both young and old in the film. Yes, Dhansika plays my daughter in the film.
Are you open to doing more roles in Tamil films at a time when you are doing a lot of off-beat films in Hindi and also doing short films?
I don’t differentiate between commercial and art films. For me what excites me is the kind of role I do. I did short films like Ahalya and now Kriti, which did not have a commercial theatrical release but got me a new reach in an exciting new medium. At the end of the day, commercial viability is important as film production is a business. If I get the right film likeKabali, I would be open to doing more south films.
So what comes next?
Watching Kabali first day first show! I’m also shooting for Ghoul, a horror film where I play a military officer. After I wrap up the film in the first week of August, I will take a two-month break and travel around.