Radhika Madan is all set to make her Bollywood debut with Vishal Bhardwaj’s Pataakha. The actor’s film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota has also won an award at 2018 Toronto Film Festival. In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Radhika gets candid about her Bollywood debut and becoming Champa Kumari for Pataakha.
Q. Pataakha is an unusual debut film. Were there inhibitions to play the role?
No, not at all. It was a Vishal Bhardwaj film and I would have done any role. I really wanted to live Champa Kumari’s life. When I read the script, I was so excited to experience being Champa. I did not think even once about my looks as it was adding to the character. It is my dream debut. The moment I started looking like Champa, I started behaving like her. I was talking in her manner.
The film just happened to me. I auditioned for the role. I did not have the privilege to choose the script. He liked my audition and I was on board.
Q. Your entry into Bollywood is interesting. Your film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota has won an award at TIFF and now Pataakha is up for release. How are you feeling?
Right now, nothing is sinking in, to be honest. It still hasn’t sunk in that my film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota won an award at Toronto Film Festival this year. In fact, it seems surreal that I am debuting with Vishal Bharadwaj’s film. I am just grateful and blessed. It has nothing to do with me. I guess the good wishes of hairdressers and make-up artists during my television stint are working for me now. I remember, when I was doing Meri Aashiqui Tum Se, they used to tell me I will go places. So, I guess this is their prayers.
Q. Between Mard and Pataakha, which character was hard to portray?
They are like chalk and cheese. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is very urban, cool and quirky zone while this is a village girl. They both are very different. Supri is vulnerable but has a lot of layers to her while Champa is a boss. She does not give a damn about anything in life. She is extremely confident. I have similar traits with both the characters. The way Supri (Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota character) reacts to difficulties, I do that in real. With Champa, I guess my childhood fights with my brother came to use. I used all my moves in the fight on screen.
I think for me the difficult part of being Champa was to behave like an elder one. I am the youngest in the family. I had to play elder one. So, I would go back home and note down things my brother did during my childhood. Apart from that, we have done a lot of prep and lived the life of a village woman to get into the character.
Q. What sort of brief was given to you about the film?
We were never briefed. Instead, he would throw questions at us asking us what we feel would have happened with the character. So, I had to think of Champa’s whole life so that when Vishal sir asks me about why she reacted the way she did, I have an answer to it. He doesn’t spoon feed.
Q. You come from a television background where you were mostly seen as a dutiful daughter-in-law. Now, we see you swearing on screen. Can we say this film is liberating for you as an actor?
I had a lot of fun and enjoyed. We felt free because we could do all that we wanted to. We gained 10 kgs for the second half. So, there were no inhibitions to do the role. Meri Aashiqui was different but not liberating. Having said that, I feel an actor is supposed to feel a sense of freedom.
Q. Is there a sense of fear or nervousness regarding acceptance in the film industry?
I was always told television actors do not get roles in Bollywood. I have always questioned them why they think so. I believe if you know how to act, you can do whatever you want to. In my head, there is no difference between television actor, film actor or theatre actor. For me, I am just an actor. The medium doesn’t matter much. So, I guess this thought has worked in my favor. In fact, my Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota director did not even know I had done television before. He got to know when I signed the film. He did not feel the need to ask me as it does not define me.
I will do whatever excites me. There is no stopping me.
Q. Do you believe it is the right time for you to debut?
Definitely. We are in an era where the audience is smart. They have been exposed to good content. Now, they would not pay Rs 300 or more for crap on the big screen. Even the attention span is so short that they would not want to spend money on just the loyalty parameter. It does not matter if you are a star kid or not, your fate in the industry is in the audience’s hand.