Actors Radhika Apte and Manav Kaul have known each other for “donkey’s years”. They first met when Kaul had taken the play Park, written and directed by him, to Pune. He decided to stay back and catch the show of Garbo — one of playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar’s significant works which was put up by Pune-based Aasakta group, in which Apte played a sexually uninhibited actress in her mid-30s. However, they did not work together till they signed Ghoul, an original mini-series on Netflix. This becomes the ground for the banter that follows. Apte complains that Kaul never cast her in his plays. In his defence, Kaul says: “She was too busy to act in my plays.”
On a serious note, they admitted to being “very happy” to have been co-actors finally. They had fun during the shoot though “the location was very depressing”. That apart, both the actors share that shooting for the horror series was very demanding “mentally and physically”. Kaul chips in: “We used to crack jokes… my jokes didn’t work though.” Were his poems more effective? Kaul, a playwright and poet, responds promptly: “No no. Not on that location. Otherwise, my co-actors and crew would have said ‘Manav se bacho, poetry suna dega (Stay away from Manav. He will read his poems)’.” At that point, Apte lets out that she has been dabbling with writing poetry. However, she is reluctant to show her writing to Kaul. “They are very paplu (juvenile) poems. Manav writes very deep poems,” she says. Coincidentally, Kaul’s third poetry collection, Tumhare Bare Main (About You), will release soon.
After Ghoul released on Netflix, Apte has been trolled for featuring in too many Netflix projects. Earlier this year, she was seen in the Anurag Kashyap-directed segment of Lust Stories as well as the first original Indian series, Sacred Games. In a tongue-in-cheek response, Netflix recently put up a short video that shows Apte playing all the characters of a movie as well as handling its different technical departments. When asked during this interview, which was conducted before Ghoul’s release, about being a Netflix favourite of the year, Apte says: “It’s a happy coincidence. Originally, Lust Stories and Ghoul were not made for Netflix.”
For Kaul what made acting in the series interesting was that he was not in any way like his character Sunil Dacunha, head of a remote military detention centre where suspected terrorists are brought for interrogation. “I’m an atheist and nihilist. It’s challenging to slip into a character that’s so different from you, such as this or my character of a Hindu extremist in Kai Po Che! (2013). I’m a very boring person and lead a normal life. But the characters we play are extraordinary,” he says, “It’s an exciting time to be an actor. So many interesting projects are being conceived and you want to work with so many people.” Apte essays the role of a new recruit at the military centre who is “hellbent” on finding the truth.
Both the actors, who have spent considerable years in theatre, say that they had taken a break from it. Though Apte was supposed to do a new play last year, she had to withdraw to focus on Ghoul. Kaul too wants to enjoy this phase of facing the camera. “It has been 13 years of rigorous writing, directing and travelling for theatre. I have written two books and 13 plays. This is like a second phase for me. The entertainment industry has changed — some very interesting stuff is being written; there are young and amazing directors. Mazedaar baat hai,” the actor says.