After her first Bollywood film Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! (2005), Radhika Apte went on to work and make a mark in Bengali, English, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films. About a decade after her Bollywood debut, the theatre artiste came into her own as a film actress with a pan-India fan following.
Cut to 2022, Radhika is one of the most sought-after actresses in Bollywood, with a reputation for pulling off challenging roles with ease. As the Andhadhun actress turns 37 today, we take a look at some of her most memorable performances on the big screen and on OTT.
Pad Man (2018)
In the R. Balki-directed biopic on social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, who worked towards improving menstrual hygiene in rural India, Radhika was cast opposite Akshay Kumar. She stepped into the shoes of Arunachalam’s wife, Shanthi Muruganantham, the inspiration behind his activism. Radhika’s Gayatri (modelled after Shanthi) is overwhelmed with sadness and mistrust towards her husband because of the social stigma around menstruation. Once she understands the motive behind her husband’s actions, she happily joins him in his endeavour and becomes his driving force.
Lust Stories (2018)
In the Netflix anthology film, Lust Stories, Radhika features in one of the segments, directed by Anurag Kashyap. She plays a temperamental college professor Kalindi, who takes a liking towards one of her students, Tejas (Akash Thosar), after a one-night-stand with him. Radhika does a wonderful job of flitting through the different shades of the character’s personality – from a sexy seductress to a crazy stalker and then to being dead cold to Tejas’s romantic interest in her.
Sacred Games Season 1 (2018)
Radhika played RAW agent Anjali Mathur in the much acclaimed first season of Sacred Games. Radhika’s Anjali, who’s shot dead by Malcolm Murad (Luke Kenny) in the first season, was integral to the success of the show. Her no-nonsense character worked with police inspector Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) to foil crime lord Ganesh Gaitonde’s (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) plans. Radhika embodies Anjali’s desperation to live up to her father’s reputation as a RAW agent, opting to risk it on the field instead of choosing to stay behind a desk.
Written and directed by Leena Yadav, Parched follows the story of four village women subjected to patriarchal oppression. Radhika plays Lajjo, a woman who is shunned by her family for not being able to bear a child. Lajjo faces a lot of humiliation and violence at the hands of her husband before discovering that it’s her husband who has infertility issues. This realisation triggers her to shed the shackles of patriarchy and escape from the village with her friends.
A large section of movie-goers discovered Radhika through Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Bengali film Antaheen, where she was paired with Rahul Bose. Radhika plays a gutsy journalist in the film that explores the subtle undercurrents in relationships through intertwined stories. Antaheen also starred Sharmila Tagore and Aparna Sen, and won the National Film Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Feature Film in 2010.