She began her career on the small screen and then shifted to films with Vishal Bhardwaj's Pataakha. Radhika Madan has taken slow but steady steps in her career pathway and is looking forward to her upcoming release. Excerpts:
It’s been a year-and-a-half since the pandemic brought everyone’s lives to a standstill. How does it feel to have a film releasing after such a long time?
Great. Luckily, I had two Netflix originals—Feel Like Ishq and Spotlight in the Ray anthology—too. Still, it’s pretty overwhelming!
Unlike Pataakha’s Badki and Angrezi Medium’s Taru, who were simple, small-town girls, Kartika in your upcoming film Shiddat seems more like you. So, was playing this character easier?
Oh, but she is not. In fact, Kartika is my polar opposite in the way she thinks. I’m more like Sunny Kaushal character’s Jaggi, who is all heart. Kartika is cerebral, almost tactical, in the way she compartmentalises everything in her head, even love.
In which case how did you forge a connection with her?
Well, first, it’s important to be empathetic as a person, which I am. And when there’s empathy, you don’t judge someone, you understand why she’s doing what she is doing. (Laughs) Of course, I was bombarding KD (director Kunal Deshmukh) with questions about anything and everything, which he kindly and sweetly answered, helping me get a grip on the character. But I have to admit the whole film was a challenge, in particular the climax. It was emotionally wrecking and required a lot of emotional and mental strength.
How long did it take you to shoot the climax?
We shot it over three days and it was really difficult to detach myself from how Kartika was feeling. At the same time, I had to constantly remind myself that she was just a character and I shouldn’t get too attached. So, I was juggling the ‘on’ and ‘off’ switch all the time to ensure that I was not swayed by the situation.
Is there a real-life love story which has been inspiring to you?
I would say my dada-dadi ki kahani (grandparents’ story). They were in love till the day my grandfather passed away. Even now, my grandmother tells me that he’s with her, even if not physically. I’m really old school in some ways. Once I get married, it would be easy to imagine my whole life with this person. And I would expect empathy, growth and support from the relationship, standing by each other no matter what.
What’s the craziest thing you have ever done in love?
Well, this happened during my television days, when I was in a long-distance relationship. It was my boyfriend’s birthday and though I was keeping insane shooting hours, I was determined to spend time with him on his special day. I shot till around 11 pm, then, took a post-midnight flight, reached at around 3-4 am. I hugged him, stayed with him for an hour, then hopped on to the next flight to Mumbai, reaching the set directly from the airport. I went without sleep for 48 hours to wish my boyfriend happy birthday.
Such spontaneous gestures of love belong to another time and world today. Were you home alone during the on-going pandemic?
I was alone last year, for the first three months of the lockdown. Back then, one didn’t know what Covid-19 was and no one really took the situation seriously. Once the airport opened up, I flew to Delhi to be with my family. And that’s when I realised how bad things were.
Did something happen to rattle you? Was someone seriously ill?
It was my birthday and we were still in the lockdown. That night, we learnt that my nani (grandmother) had tested positive for Covid-19. We were all really scared because she has asthma. By God’s grace she has recovered and is fit and fine, but that shook us up.
After being locked up at home for months, what was it like getting back to work?
Beautiful. I love my job and couldn’t wait to be back in action. After staying at home for so long, all the thakaan (tiredness) had gone and I was all pumped up.
And have you started signing films again?
There are a few exciting projects and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m doing a film with Jio and there’s Kuttey. Aasmaan, Vishal (Bhardwaj) sir’s son, is directing it. He is a fab guy and so talented. I’m looking forward to working with him. There’s also a web series with Dinoo and Homi (her Angrezi Medium producer Dinesh Vijan and director Homi Adagania) which should be fun.
Have you always wanted to become an actress?
No, I wanted to be a professional dancer.