She’s trending. She almost always is. Her movies are critically applauded and she is slowly but surely gaining a steady fan following; even if it’s not just for her unconventional roles in Indian cinema. If you’re a creature of the web, you’re familiar with a leaked scene from the actress’ upcoming movie, Parched, that’s doing the rounds on the internet. The scene pictures Apte getting intimate with her co-star Adil Hussain, as part of her role in the movie. And while the film is touted to be a lot more than just this scene, people across the country have zeroed in on this clip to sensationalise the whole issue. But Radhika Apte is clearly beyond it all.
She even went on to shut down a journalist who apparently asked her if being bold was necessary in order to become successful in Indian cinema. Her response ranged from telling the man how ridiculous his question was to suggesting he look at his own nude body in the mirror before having such a discussion with her. True that the Indian media is kind of fixated on actresses being semi-nude or doing controversial scenes, just to get their clickbaity titles and eyeballs. True, also, that more and more of our Bollywood actresses are shutting down such media persons who tend to objectify women, more often than not, without really knowing it. But somewhere, between the two divides, there is this thin line, which most of the intelligent Bollywood film makers tread, where they use a means to get to an end.
Radhika Apte is clearly the flavour of the season and for all the right reasons. Her role in Hunterrr and then, in Phobia is evidence enough that Apte is a class act, period. She could very well be the next Smita Patil—dusky, mysterious, mind of her own and mettle to prove it. But, beyond all of that, we are a nation that still judges women by the body, the complexion and by how physically appealing she is.
Radhika Apte is the blend of great cinema and great features and trail-blazes non-convention at the moment. Her opinions matter—be it on war, or on a nude scene. Her style matters, too—on and off the red carpet. But what seems a little hard to shake is the hidden prejudice behind all this unconventional brouhaha. Apte’s directors, producers, co-stars and even her publicists have been successful in branding her as the modern-aged role model for Indian cinema—a blend of commercial and critical success. But, if you observe the deeper undercurrent, it really is a very age-old formula. Take someone who doesn’t look like the typical fair and lovely girl next door, give her a few opinions and galore of opportunities and turn her into the perfect symbol. It’s like the breath of fresh air everyone needs because the men with the money have made it so. And so, it works. You’d probably tell me a Richa Chadha could work the same way; so could a Chitrangada Singh and yes, to a certain extent they do, and for the very same reasons.
But, it’s about Radhika Apte right now. It’s about her movie, her leaked scenes, her opinions, her guts and her attitude… Oh, and yes, her talent and prowess as a fabulous actor. Or did you forget that because you were too busy looking at the leaked scene and agreeing with the fact that she’s so unconventional, it’s almost conventional?