OTT has more opportunities for different roles for female performers, says Radhika Apte

Radhika Apte on falling in love with robots on set, choosing diverse roles and embracing failure 
Radhika Apte in sci-fi comedy series
Radhika Apte in sci-fi comedy series

Actress Radhika Apte, who is riding high on the success of her recent release, sci-fi comedy series OK Computer streaming on Hotstar, doesn’t want to stop experimenting with her roles. Ever since her debut in 2005 with Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi, the actress has been making the most of the content wave sweeping across Bollywood and beyond. In just over a decade-long career, Radhika has made her audiences take notice of her performance one after the other.

Whether it is about her Netflix outings, Sacred Games and Lust Stories, which were nominated at the 2019 International Emmy Award, or films like Pad Man and Andhadhun, the actress has not only impressed the filmmakers in India but abroad as well. In fact, it earned her A Call to Spy by Lydia Dean Pilcher, that released last year. And now, OK Computer, sees her playing Laxmi Suri, the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Every Robot (PETER), an organisation that protects robots ’ rights.

“This character was very new for me. I haven’t done anything like that before and that itself was challenging because you are learning everything about AI. I would sit with Neil (Pagedar) and Pooja (Gupta) with a lot of questions and the best part was that they were clear about what they were doing,” begins Radhika and reveals that none of the actors in the show knew much about their respective characters. “For a long time, I didn’t know what I was doing and it was the same for everyone. There was so much to improvise and I really enjoyed working on this series right from the beginning,” she shares.

Radhika Apte with a robot from <em>OK Computer</em>
Radhika Apte with a robot from OK Computer

Written and directed by Neil Pagedar and Pooja Gupta, the sci-fi comedy, OK Computer brings a cybercrime detective Saajan Kundu (played by Vijay Varma) along with Laxmi to solve a murder mystery when a self-driving taxi is hacked and ordered to kill an anonymous human victim. “Working with the robots was fun,” she shares. But preparing for the role was a task since she never worked on something so unprecedented and unreal. “I have never really been so interested in AI or machines in my life and never indulged in that idea. So when we had scenes where I just had to talk to robots, the robots felt so innocent and harmless and you could just fall in love with them, they’re that friendly,” says the actress. Further, she says, “I actually enjoyed my scenes with the robots; and the machines were so innovative in the series,” reveals the Manjhi actress.

Given that OK Computer has been getting a good response since its release last month, one can anticipate a possible second season. But the actress isn’t sure about it. “I think if something is entertaining and good, it will work. OTT has more opportunities; lengthy content can only be watched on OTT but I am not sure if this will have a part two or not,” she doubts.

So far, the actress has played each role differently from the other, but, her selection of role depends on how exciting the opportunity is. “I can’t do similar roles. I get bored with repeated stuff. I choose subjects that are challenging enough, like this Laxmi one. It also depends on what I am getting out of the character. The length of the role really doesn’t matter to me. If a small role brings me a lot of money I would just do it,” she says with a laugh.

Despite her unparalleled performance in every project, the actress is not spared of criticism, which she believes is important. “That’s how you learn. I know I wasn’t good at certain projects and people told me about that. I tried and improved in the following projects. I always look to better my craft after someone criticises my work,” says the actress, matter of factly. But do you feel bad when your films tank at the box office despite having strong subjects? “I do, but I also feel that failure is important. I enjoy the process of filmmaking the most,” responds the Ahalya actress.

Apart from her commercial films, Radhika has also done films such as Shor in the City, Parched, and The Wedding Guest among many others essaying strong women-centric characters. However, none of these films could churn out moolah at the box office. “The budget of these films is very low. I am happy that at least we are making women-centric films and they are getting appreciated. Women-centric subjects are sensitive and the whole society needs to update its mindset,” she opines and believes that the little change is also attributed to OTT platforms. “Women have been doing some fantastic roles for many years, it’s not new. But I believe OTT has more opportunities for different roles for female performers,” says the actor before signing off.

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