There are some actors and actresses who ease us into their performances – it’s as if we know their characters from somewhere. Radhika Apte has that effect. She does her thing and makes it memorable, each time. Another thing she does well is, speak her mind and take a stand. And so, I admire her work, sure, but I also make sure never to miss an interview. Because ‘Radhika Apte being herself’ is a genre in itself.
In many ways, Mrs Undercover is also a subtle reflection of her taking a stand. The film revolves around gender roles and how women are expected to bear the load of chores, and responsibilities at home. It’s now streaming on Zee5 for you to watch, and well, it’s a must-watch.
In a conversation with ScoopWhoop, Radhika Apte talked about her character in Mrs Undercover, and what it’s like being an actress in Bollywood.
Mrs. Undercover has a comic undertone. And we asked Radhika about her experience of performing for roles that require a good comic timing and comedy as a genre, in general.
She mentioned that as a performer it feels good to be in that energy, but there’s also the fear of how the viewers will receive it.
“I think it’s light and it doesn’t feel heavy while working. There’s lightness on sets, and you can be joking around. But it’s a bit difficult for a performer because either you make people laugh or you can go flat. And it can be embarrassing”
There have been times when the actress has been vocal about unfair treatment and harsh beauty standards in the industry. We wanted to know her experience of being an actress, as compared to being an actor in Bollywood.
Radhika Apte opened up about stereotypes associated with being in the film industry, and how most of it comes down to how one looks. She also shared that it can get difficult because actresses are constantly judged and commented on.
“In today’s day and age, gender boundaries are finally coming down in the show business. It’s difficult anyway, where our face is constantly on the camera to be judged and commented on. Women need to look pretty, men need to look fit or masculine – whatever that means. In general, when a profession depends so much on how you look, it can get quite intimidating.”
Mrs. Undercover also has action sequences – so we talked to her about the preparation for this character.
According to her, there was very little time to prepare before shots. And most sequences required a lot of physical strength, where she used her experience in choreography to perform.
“I wish I had more time to prepare. Most things were on the spot, where we had four hours to perform some sequences or five hours for something else. So I had to learn everything that I’d never done before, and it was really difficult actually. But, I also really enjoyed it. For me it was like choreography – and I’ve been a dancer before – so I remembered sequences well. I hope I get to do more action in future.”
The actress started acting in theatre, before having a career in films. And we talked to her about her experience as a theatre artist.
She mentioned that she misses doing plays. And while she loves both the spaces (camera and theatre) equally, there’s a certain commitment that being a theatre artist requires.
“I really miss theatre and would love to go back sometime. It requires a different kind of commitment with the discipline and the live audience. On camera, you’re so focused on your face. But in theatre, the entire body language matters and it’s a different medium. I hope I can do some play soon.”
We also mentioned Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi!
“It was a really long time ago. I was still in college and Mahesh Manjrekar was a judge in some competition. He said he wanted me to audition for a small part. I literally did it in my summer holidays, hoping I’d found out what filmmaking is all about. I did that and continued my studies and when I finally finished my graduation is when more theatre and film happened. So Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! was a tiny experience I had a long time ago – wasn’t a great one.”
There are a lot of elements in Mrs. Undercover, so we wanted to know what was her favourite part about this film.
The actress mentioned that she liked the character a lot, given the different shades that were added to it. And the fact that the film doesn’t try to force humour, but only uses it in observations, is what she enjoyed about the story.
“The character is quite endearing and innocent. Basically, she’s someone who has been forgotten by the force. It’s funny because the situations are funny. I really enjoyed playing the character, as there are goofy sequences when she’s really clumsy; then there are some really dashing action sequences as well. So, I think it was a fun character to play, in general”
The theme of the film centres around an important discussion on gender roles, and it tries to portray that in all subtlety. We asked Radhika about her takeaway from it.
Radhika Apte talked about how women are casually assigned more chores at home, and most of the work isn’t divided equally between men and women. She added that it’s a thankless job, which requires credit – something that the film also tries to highlight, in its own ways.
“I just feel like a lot of women in our country are homemakers. Or a lot of women might not be homemakers and have jobs, but they all still do housework. And a lot of men in our country don’t do any housework. That really needs to change, because we underestimate what it takes to feed a family, to take care of them and that needs to be distributed and given credit. You’ll only give credit when you start doing it yourselves, and you realize how difficult it is.
It is also important to teach our children to do house chores and give up the stereotypes, so that the next generation knows – if you want to eat, learn how to cook. Similarly, if you want a clean bed, wash the sheets. And women need to listen to their dreams or what they want to do. They should also give themselves the freedom to do that.”
She also talked about what she seeks in a co-actor or what makes her want to work with them.
“I like when a co-actor is also listening to what I’m saying, in the sense that when actors start performing on their own, it gets difficult. You need to be a good listener in order to perform. I like actors who are collaborative.”
The actress has a filmography that is versatile, and all her characters have range that is almost unmatched. We wanted to know if she has a favourite character.
But she doesn’t have any favourites, given the long list of characters that she has played.
“I’ve done so much work. And everything has something special or to learn from it. I’m not somebody who has favourites in life, anyway.”
Finally, we asked her to share her binge-list and shows that she likes to unwind.
“I have go-to shows that I watch to unwind, just before I go to bed. It’s either F.R.I.E.N.D.S, I know, I still watch it. Or it’s Schitt’s Creek. And I’m told, I really need to watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.“
All images are screenshots from the trailer on YouTube, unless specified otherwise.