A trajectory that can only be defined as going from best to best – Radhika Madan has been in fierce competition with itself since its debut in 2018 with Patakhaa by Vishal Bhardwaj. She’s been in a league of her own, stepping up every opportunity by knocking on her door with films like Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, Medium Angrezi, and Shiddat. Recognition on Indian grounds was already hers when international platforms selected a talent like hers – and there she was, marking her second appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival for the world premiere of her upcoming – Kacchey Limbu. Here’s an exclusive conversation with Filmfare where she shares her ecstasy at attending the famous film festival again. Excerpts:
You must be on top of the world, the second company at the Toronto International Film Festival after Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota…
I’m on top of the world right now, I can’t believe our movie is premiering at Toronto International Film Festival. It’s a huge, huge deal and until the time I got here, I didn’t realize that okay, our movie is playing out there. The city is therefore in turmoil with the festival and the roads are blocked. Luckily I stay right next to the location so I can see the activities there. The crowd is excited, so right now I’m very, very nervous and just as excited. One day before our premiere and yeah, fingers crossed. I hope it will be well received, we made this film with so much heart and I hope it will touch even more hearts.
After transitioning from TV to the big screen, you’ve carved out a place for yourself as an unconventional actress.
I don’t want to be stereotyped. Every time I make a film, I make sure that the roles I choose are different from each other. And yes, it’s a conscious choice because as a person, I get bored playing a character.
Kachhey Limbu is a very interesting title.
I was sent the script for Kachhey Limbu and I remember I read it straight through and right after I read it, I said yes. It was given to me during lockdown and I called the director, Shubham, it’s his first movie, so it was a new director and I just asked my team, ki please give give me his number, I have to tell him how great the script is and how well written it is, and how grateful I am that he approached me. So I just called him and he was at the airport going somewhere and we had a nice chat. And we both felt so passionate about the script because it was so relevant to me. After all, I shared a very similar relationship with my brother. And 90% of people don’t know what they want to do with their lives, especially women. They are told what to do, even if it is education or a particular career to choose. Everything is decided for them, so there is no freedom for them to choose. We don’t have that kind of luxury. So it was very relevant and I just wanted to do it right away.
Your Aditi character represents a major section of society that still falls prey to parental expectations.
Exactly, 90% of people don’t know what they want to do with their life. Of the next 10%, 5% are aware that yes, I’m good at it, so I want to pursue it. But the remaining 5%, they are not good at studies but pursue extracurricular activities. Thus, the average category, majority, is the prey of everyone’s expectations. Like what their friends do, what their parents expect of them, what their brother or cousin does. They don’t have the luxury of exploring their dreams. I am very different from Aditi. I don’t know, but I was very clear from the start. I was kind of a rebel. I knew it well, if I fail or if I succeed at least it will be my decision. So my parents were pretty upset about it all. They were like she was so rebellious, but it worked for me in a way, because I was very motivated. And I never always wanted to succeed, I always intended to do good or pursue my passion but I also knew from the very beginning that it was going to come with its share of failures and successes. But I told my parents that you know, at least I wouldn’t blame you if something went wrong, I would blame myself that yes it was my decision. So Aditi and I are poles apart. Because, I’ve seen and been with a lot of people like Aditi, the story was quite personal. My close friends were similar to Aditi and my best friend’s name is also Aditi so it was just personal and I thought I wanted to tell this story.
Female-centric roles have become the “it” genre in the industry these days.
I think it’s high time we told these stories because they’re important, they’re relatable. So many women are told what to do. So having your own dream is a very big thing. And in my head, that’s the most fundamental thing, it’s your life, you have to have a dream, you have to go in the direction your heart tells you. The pressures of your parents, they don’t allow you to be free. It makes you more caged, so I think it’s high time to tell all those stories. I am proud to be part of it and I am proud to represent India in this incredible international festival. And yeah, if you do something with your heart, I feel like it touches a lot of hearts, so yeah. So we try to do that. I still remember my director telling me ki sachi film banayenge, achi ka pata nahi. And we continued every day with that approach, and I think that translated into one way or another.
The story of Kachhey Limbu also features the bonds between siblings. How close are you to your brother Arjun?
Oh, I had such nostalgia, when I was reading the script because as siblings, we argued a lot. And Arjun, very opposed to me and very brotherly. He thinks of me as his little sister who doesn’t know any better and all that. Not now but when we were young. Now it is very different, we share the most beautiful of links. But when we were growing up we used to fight like cats and dogs and I took inspiration from a lot of my instances that were there with him and that makes the story even more personal. And yes, I think Rajat also played a very beautiful role, as my elder brother and I remembered Arjun, many times. I remember, when I came back from my shoot, I told him that I could only think of you. And it’s a very beautiful bond, you know, between a brother and a sister. Especially an older brother, where he’s almost like a father figure but he’s also a friend, because he’s your brother and you respect him so much, but he sees you as a little sister. The dynamic is layered and I hope a lot of brothers and sisters can relate to that and I hope they learn something from that.
You have also mastered cricket skills as it is a mix of sports and dramatic storyline.
Playing cricket was very nostalgic for me, because it’s not professional cricket. It’s cricket played in societies, like ravine cricket, which has its own set of rules and regulations and you can bring your own style. So I was taken back to my childhood because cricket was the first sport you ever played. I was playing with my brothers and you know, back home on the road, we had our own rules. So a lot of things were taken from my childhood and revisiting them was amazing. I remember we used to practice about three hours a day while preparing for the film and the main goal was to create a sense of personal style and not focus too much on technique. And I also learned bowling, because I’m a spinner in the movie. Learning to shoot was hard but it was so much fun and it will always be special because it’s part of my childhood.
You have an exceptional line-up to look forward to – Vishal Bhardwaj and Homi Adjania’s upcoming Kuttey…
I can only promise you one thing, that you can’t put me in a box. I hope. Of the six projects that line up, I can only assure you that no character is alike. And that makes the journey exciting for me. I hope the journey is also exciting for the audience.