PERSONALITY Acting, producing teleserials and now collaborating with Anupam Kher's school in Chennai, how does Radikaa Sarathkumar manage to multi-task?
Early next month, when actor Anupam Kher comes to Chennai to inaugurate another branch of his acting school, Actor Prepares, actor, producer and entrepreneur Radikaa Sarathkumar will add another feather to her crown. Her Radaan Media Works is collaborating with Kher's school with a view to sharing their collective experience with wannabe actors in this part of the country. She has not had time for herself after the shooting of her latest Tamil flick, “Saguni”, with Karthi and now she is to become a teacher. She laughs, “I wish there were two days compressed into one so that I could do much more.”
Radaan Media Works has produced ‘Chithi', ‘Annamalai', ‘Selvi', ‘Arasi', ‘Chellamae' and other super-popular serials and catapulted Radikaa to an undisputed position. She is forever thinking of new concepts for television, scripting, casting, selecting technicians, shooting and acquiring skills required to succeed.
She says, “My world of dreams is cluttered with ideas.” Restless to execute them all, Radikaa would rather work than party. “At the same time,” she smiles, “I would rather be home by 6 p.m. to be with kids than be at work.”“It's both easy and tough to multi-task,” she says. “Much of it depends on your ability to juggle your time and most importantly your attitude to your life, work and family,” she says. “Never complain,” she adds.
Excited about the acting school, she plans to restrict the first batch to 35 students. “Slowly as it picks up and we evolve our curriculum, maybe we will add more students. Right now, I want to focus on a select group and produce the best talents.” “When I entered the industry 32 years ago at my mother's behest, I knew neither to act nor to lip sync for songs. My learning was with experience and now it is time to share the knowledge and expertise I have gained with the future generation," she says.
Radikaa is often compared with Bollywood's Ekta Kapoor, the youngest female tycoon of the Indian television industry, who has produced hit Hindi serials and redefined television-watching. Radikaa at 49 is no less accomplished, working at a pace difficult to match. She is also the judge of a reality show on TV. Having forayed into Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi films as well, Radikaa feels the exchange that is happening among different regional cinemas augurs well for the industry. “There are more crossover films now and more recognition for people from the cine world across borders. This bonhomie will firm up the country's position in the international arena.”
Though her own brush with Bollywood — acting in half-a-dozen Hindi films including two with Amitabh Bachchan and one with Rajnikanth — did not quite endear her to the Hindi audience, she is quick to add, “Today's girls are different, they are smarter and have a different outlook. I did not quite sink into the Mumbai culture then and also found the language a tad difficult.”
However, with the success of her TV soaps, acting and film production have taken a backseat. “I will soon produce a feature film,” says Radikaa, whose “Meendum Oru Kaadhal Kathai” won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director in 1985.
Radikaa, who would like to do more of character and mature roles matching her age, says, “I don't think I would be appreciated much if I sang and danced in exotic locales.”
What defines today's woman, Radikaa says, is to be fearless. And what sets her apart is her ability and urge to do something different. It was this urge that took Radikaa from films to the small screen almost two decades ago. “Everybody thought I was making a mistake. Initially, I also ran into problems. But I am not the type to give up if I have decided to pursue something.” So she pressed on with the Radaan TV banner, created history with mega soaps which ran over 750 episodes, and is now venturing into the Hindi market.
Radikaa has transformed herself from the awkward young actor who made a reluctant debut in Bharatiraja's ‘Kizhake Pogum Rayil' to a confident and multifarious artiste and a shrewd businesswoman.
“I am basically a hard worker,” she says. Her screen presence is known to have a powerful impact. She admits she is much more self-assured as an actor today. “I want to retain my personal independence in whatever I do, be it acting, directing, producing or playing a host. Only when you have the freedom, will the creative outcome be good.”
Why is she so obsessed with extra-marital relationships in her serials? “Every family experiences emotional swings. I love to explore these complexities, having undergone a lot of pain in my life. And by instinct, I know these make for interesting viewing, as everybody can identify with some aspect of the larger issue, if not in its entirety.”
I want to retain my personal independence in whatever I do, be it acting, directing, producing or playing a host