Radhika Apte: I remember feeling very proud the day I got my periods
With Padman's release today, we get into a quick conversation with Radhika Apte, where she speaks about periods, working with Akshay Kumar and much more
With Padman, film based on menstrual hygiene released today, which is kind of a revolution in the Hindi film industry, mid-day online got in touch with the film's actress Radhika Apte, who has her own share of stories to tell about her struggle in the Hindi film industry. From going digital with short films to niche cinema and finally to the mainstream industry, her transition has been phenomenal! The petite and outspoken beauty is an ocean of talent, which makes her irresistible and difficult for onlookers to turn their eyes away from. Her character of a rural girl, playing Akshay Kumar's wife, is exactly the opposite of her persona. It is this challenge that drew the 32-year-old to this film. In a candid conversation with us, she talks about how she was enlightened about menstruation by her family even before she hit puberty.
How did you get this film 'Padman', and did you immediately give a nod to it or how was the entire process that you went through before signing the film?
R Balki (film's director) asked me to come to his home or office, and when I went to meet him, he gave me the script. I took the script, read it and went to meet him again the next day, and… I said 'Yes' to do the film. And when I asked him why he wanted me to play this character he said that you are the exact opposite of the character and that is why I want you to play this part because that would be challenging for you. Working on that character was great because I haven't played a part like that before.
With Balki sir, Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar around, how would the atmosphere be on the sets of the film?
It was really fun and I love Balki, he is such a nice man. I remember after every shoot, we would sit and talk about the next day's work, the scenes. We would also talk a lot about our own stories. It felt so good to talk to him about everything. So, it was the same atmosphere while working. And Akshay is damn funny. He's always chilled out but also a professional at the same time. So, for everybody, it was everything on time…eight hours of work, we start on time and finish on time, which is like a rarity. Balki had to guide me because I had to wake up before he entered because I'm not that person. So, my instinct would always push me to do it. It was a great collaboration!
You are one of the first stars who went digital with the super hit short film of Sujoy Ghosh, Ahalya, then you've done regional films-- art, commercial and all kind of cinema. Are there are any plans for exploring the Television medium?
Medium is not that is going to stop me. What matters to me is the content. I haven't been offered anything on the Television that I want to do as yet.
Any incident surrounding menstruation that you found very weird while growing up or were subjected to any of the orthodox practices while menstruating?
My family is very liberal about it because they are a bunch of liberal doctors. So, it was not a problem. I knew about my periods even before I started getting them. I remember the day my periods actually started; I sort of figured that they've started. So, I went to the bathroom in the middle of a class. I remember feeling very proud the day I got my periods. Once, I went to a friend's house while I was menstruating, I remember her mother didn't let me come into the kitchen and I was very offended because I've never been told that.
Society is another eye-opener and my mother used to buy sanitary napkins from a lady who would come to our house, they would go door-to-door to sell pads. My mother told me that the reason she purchases pads from them is that it generates good employment. She would buy a whole-year stock from the woman. I would like to share another story, my brother was quite young and when I came home I had a blood stain on my kurta. My mum told me, 'Radhika, you have a stain' and I said, 'Mum, I'm so tired now, I'll wash it later on.' At the same time, my younger brother, who was right there was very embarrassed that we were discussing this. I told him that, 'Start studying about it because you're going to be a doctor soon.'
How does it feel or how do you react on being compared to yesteryear actress Smita Patil?
Nobody really compares. I haven't heard that from anybody. One or two people met me, said something and I did react to that. Honestly, she's a legendary actor, if somebody even gives you that as a compliment. I don't think that I have done half the work as she has done. Of course, it's a supremely amazing compliment but I am not very good at taking compliments.
Also, Bollywood often tends to typecast actors; do you think you've been typecast?
Initially, yes. I was said that no one could imagine me playing any urban part. I have seven projects coming out and I have done completely different roles in all of them. In 'PadMan' I play a village girl. In 'Baazaar', I play a girl, who is an extremely successful businesswoman--young, bright and independent. In 'Sacred Games', I play a RAW agent and in Anurag's film (international project), I play a young teacher in a metro city. In SriRam Raghavan's film with Ayushmann Khurrana, I play this very young, cool-vibe girl and in 'Ghoul' (English film) I've played a military officer. In 'Bombairiya' I have played a PR agent and all these characters have nothing in common with each other.
What was the defining moment of your career?
It's yet to come. I've just begun!
Are you happy with the way your career is shaping up?
I am happy today that PadMan is releasing tomorrow.
Why don't we get to see more of Radhika Apte on the social circuits?
That's because I am working every day. Last year, I worked every single day of the year and this year also, I don't have a break until July. Therefore, you don't see me in parties and award functions. I do go out sometimes but I am not in Bombay or I'm out shooting.
With Women's Day around the corner, any message for the women of our country?
Just live a guilt-free life and know that you have freedom and the right to happiness. Try getting all that you want, ask questions and don't feel guilty about it.