Born and brought up in Delhi, Radhika Madan was a dance instructor before she became an actor. Soon after her popular TV show, Meri Aashiqui Tumse Hi ended, she played the role of a feisty and rebellious Rajasthani woman in Vishal Bhardwaj’s comedy, Pataakha. Winning millions of hearts with her acting, Radhika bagged the title of the ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ at Star Screen Awards 2018.
The 23-year old then dived into the genre of action for a movie, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, for which she learnt martial arts for several months and performed all stunts herself. The film, which also features actress Bhagyashree's son Abhimanyu Dassani, has been positively received at Toronto International Film Festival and has made its mark even before the release.
In an exclusive interview with POPxo, the actress takes us through her exciting journey of success and her experience of playing such fiercely unique roles, one after another.
No, not all. I wanted to become a professional dancer. I wanted to go to Broadway, learn tap-dancing and travel the world. That was my dream. Acting just happened along the way.
Somebody saw me on Facebook and they messaged me. I used to watch a lot of Crime Petrol and Gumrah at that time, so I thought these people were messing with me (laughs). So, I just went with my two guy friends with hockey sticks at the place where they were calling me. We thought we’re gonna bust them and our pictures will be on the front page the next day. But when I went in, there was an actual audition going on. In the awkwardness, I had to give the audition because they spotted me before I could leave. So, that’s how I ended up getting the role for Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi.
I don't think I'll ever be able to really choose one. Dancing is my first love and acting is my destiny. They’re equally a part of my life and an essential part of me.
Being Champa was a LOT of fun. We went into the village and stayed with Rajasthani women at their homes for 5-6 days. We used to do all the household chores ourselves from milking the buffaloes, bathing them to cooking food for everyone and walking for two kilometres to fetch water from the well, every single day. So, living with them and speaking in their dialect really helped me get into the skin of the character. It was a very short schedule and we finished the whole film in just 28 days. Working with Vishal (Bhardwaj, the director) Sir and Sanya (Malhotra, co-star) was just so much fun!
I had an amazing time shooting for Pataakha. I think the best part of it was that there was no network while we were shooting. So, we used to just sit with each other and talk for hours. We were all staying in the same resort, so after every shoot, I, Vishal Sir and Sanya used to go to the restaurant and have food together. At the end of the day, we used to just sit together, listen to old songs, talk about films, and that’s how we developed this beautiful, strong connection with each other. That is one thing I really miss the most.
I think what really helped me was the physical aspect of it. I learnt martial arts for several months. I used to hate action films before. I had even admitted this to Vasal (Bala, the director) Sir the first day I met him but he was confident. He was like, “Ho jayega ho jayega, sab ho jayega."
So, I went with the flow and initially, I used to make myself sit in front of the television and watch action movies every single day. I remember taking a break after every 20 minutes and then resuming the film because it was all so hard for me to digest. Surprisingly, after a month or two, once I really got into it, I fell in love with this form of acting. That’s how I fell in love with action, which helped me relate to it. And that’s how I got into the skin of the character so well.
Honestly, I don’t take ANY praises and criticisms seriously. That’s my mantra. I always try to be at a neutral place in my life so even if they’re criticising, it’s okay, and if they’re praising, that’s also okay. If my director is happy, my producer is happy and my team is happy, then that’s my achievement.
Ishaani was too sweet, Supri was a complete badass and Champa was a bully. So, yeah I do relate with all the three characters in some ways or the other, but not wholly with one specifically. Although with Champa, I think I was the most comfortable out of the three. There was a part of me that really felt at ease while playing that role. But I really wish to play a character who’s completely like me too, someday.
I really want to work with Ritesh Batra, Anurag Basu, Anurag Kashyap, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I have a whole list yaar.
I just want to live each and every moment, each and every character and be very honest with the roles that I play. That is what my goal is right now. I don’t want to dilute it with the slightest thought of, ‘Par aek star toh aise nahi dikh sakta na?’ Yeh nahi karna mujhe. That’s how I experienced it in Pataakha when I gained 12 kgs, got four shades tanned, blackened my teeth and bleached my hair. I wasn’t afraid of it at all. So, I want to remain just as fearless in my upcoming projects and not think of any specific image that I want to portray. I want to come out of my comfort zone and do my work with utmost honesty. That’s the only goal I have.
Radhika's next movie, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, is releasing on March 21.
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