FILM From small screen to big screen, Radhika Pandit has made a big leap. The young actor, who plays the lead in the film Drama releasing today, says she’d rather not be a star S. SHIVA KUMAR
There’s something inexplicably endearing about Radhika Pandit. When you watch her on-screen, you feel you know her which I feel is the secret of her success. Her large expressive eyes which can make you smile or melt into a stream of tears are her main asset. Meaty roles have consistently fallen in her lap and she’s performed with relish. Her ‘Addhuri’ is this year’s blockbuster and if the promos are any indication she has a winner in ‘Drama’ hitting the halls today. I meet her in a claustrophobic, but cosy caravan where she’s relaxing with her mother who’s her chaperone.
Usually someone who wants to make it big in films hesitates to use the small screen as a stepping stone.
I took up my first serial when I was still in college. That’s a phase when you want to explore. Acting was something new that I heard was exciting so I gave it a shot. I would have gone back to normal life if I hadn’t succeeded. I didn’t have to audition because Ashok Kashyap thought I had very expressive eyes that he thought I could use to good effect. That opened the doors to the bigger platform. I don’t think serials are a barrier. The exposure with cinema is definitely bigger but there’s no difference in the acting.
What was the normal life you’d have gone back to?
By normal life I meant people on my street knew me but now people on every street know who I am. Radhika Pandit is now a recognisable name which is not normal. If I had pursued my MBA I’d have been working in a 9 to 6 job and my circle would have expanded to my colleagues.
Was there any resistance at home?
Not at all and that’s the blessing. I come from a family that totally encourages performing arts. I have always been encouraged to pursue arts and as you can see my mom accompanies me, not for protection but to egg me on. My family is my strength and I have reached thus far only because of them.
Doing a serial is like going to the office but cinema is a different ballgame altogether. There are various other things involved. When did that hit you?
It did. I think work wise cinema is more relaxed. I would shoot 13 scenes in a day sometimes for serials which required eight to nine costume changes. It was hectic because it was more dialogue oriented. It caters to women who identify with the dialogues. Films are more relaxed. You may shoot only one scene but it has to be good. You have the luxury to prepare. That’s probably the only difference.
You were very lucky in the sense that you got a meaty role in a female-oriented film for your debut.
I wouldn’t attribute everything to luck. It definitely plays a role but if I hadn’t grabbed that opportunity, I wouldn’t have reached here. I was lucky in the sense that the script was right for me for a launch but I did work hard. I knew I had to carry the film and I was conscious of that throughout.
You have also never been just the romantic angle in your films. You’ve got equal footage and sometimes more than the hero.
I believe there should be some justice in the characters I play in the sense there’s life beyond glamour for an actress.
Maybe that’s the reason this is my fourth year, but I’ve just done 11 films. In fact, I should have been doing 11 films per year but I’ve been choosy. It may sound like a cliché, but I believe in performing. I’d rather be an actor than a star.
You were very restrained in ‘Moggina Manasu’, your first film but seemed to go overboard playing the village belle in ‘Hudugaru’. Does your performance depend on the director?
Not really. The character I played in ‘Moggina Manasu’ required me to underplay whereas the character in ‘Hudugaru’ is vibrant and that’s the way it’s portrayed here. I won’t say I’m entirely a director’s actor but I always discuss what he wants me to convey and how. It’s surprising you haven’t jumped to other languages. Is it lack of offers?
I’ve always said language shouldn’t be a barrier but I started off here and this is home. I’m doing well here and haven’t given attention to other languages yet. Offers did come along but I was not able to accommodate them. I’m not saying I will not do other language films but right now the focus is here.
Aren’t you getting a little typecast?
I don’t think so. I can give you an example right away. In ‘Drama’, that’s getting released today, I play a modern girl who’s flirtatious. She’s today’s girl whereas in ‘Kaddi Pudi’ I’m totally deglamourised. She’s a housewife whose life revolves round her home and husband. I don’t think there’s anything repetitive in my roles.
I’m sure people must think you are boring. You are always politically correct, praise your colleagues and do your job.
(Laughs loudly) Well, I hear that a lot.
So what’s on your platter now?
Just ‘Kaddi Pudi’ because there’s a certain look I have to maintain. There are offers but I can’t take them up till I finish this.
Films are more relaxed. You may shoot only one scene but it has to be good. You have the luxury to prepare