Recent Netflix anthologies Ray and Feels Like Ishq have one thing in common – actress Radhika Madan. In Ray, a series of four short films based on director Satyajit Ray's stories, she plays a godwoman in Vasan Bala's short Spotlight. In Feels Like Ishq short Save The Da(y)te, Madan plays a social media influencer who teams up with a wedding planner to track down a runaway bride. The actress talks about the allure of working in the short-film format and whether she still has to audition to get roles:
Rohini Ramnathan: What are the advantages of working in the short format?
Radhika Madan: As a viewer, I enjoy anthologies. When I'm short on time, or just can't invest in a two-and-a-half hour film, I can take a half-an-hour break, watch a segment and get back to work. As a viewer, it's really enjoyable to watch a short film. I can watch one anthology segment on-the-go and finish it before I reach work.
When it comes to doing an anthology, it depends on what the script is like. Because Ray was really, really challenging. It wasn't painless or easy-breezy for me. I had to learn a dialect, there was a specific body language that I had to master, it was a really complex characters, so that was really, really tough. But on the other hand, Feels Like Ishq was really breezy. It was a break for me, one that I really needed. I just went to the sets and had a blast.
RR: Let's talk about Ray. It is a one-hour short film, your screen time is less than 20 minutes. There's one scene in which you tell your tale of transformation to Didi. Can you go back to the scene and tell me how the magic was done?
RM: I didn't expect Vasan (Bala) to shoot it as one take, because the scene was two or three pages long. I was told that we'd shoot till a specific point (in the script) and then they'd change the camera angle. But I just kept going and they didn't call cut. When the monologue was over, Vasan sir said, 'We got it.' And I was like, 'What? Did we actually get it?' And I begged him for 2-3 more takes. He just gave me one more. This happens with him all the time. Even in Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, I had a scene with my mother, during which he didn't call cut and I kept going. I begged him for two to three more takes and he didn't give them to me. As an actor you feel, 'I've just warmed up now. Gradually, I'll get into character and do the scene.' But Vasan sir can see what nobody can see.
RR: You said that the role was important to you because you got a chance to experience power.
RM: If you look at the role on-paper, it's a 15-20 minute role. You'd think, 'Radhika's a girl-next-door, how can she play a godwoman?' But that's the reason I really wanted to do Didi – because I'm an upcoming actor. This gave me the opportunity to experience the power that belongs to a superstar. I don't know if I will ever experience that, I hope I do. But I haven't yet and I didn't want to let go of this opportunity. I got 15 minutes to experience the kind of power that would otherwise take me years to reach.
RR: How powerful are you right now? You've called yourself an upcoming actor. What's the struggle like?
RM: It's not about struggle. It's just that right now, I'm relatively new. I'm paving my own path. There's still time. I hope I keep surprising people, and win the love of the audience and the critics. But, for now, I'm just climbing, I've not reached there yet.
RR: Do you think you are better placed in the industry now? Do people call you more often for auditions? Or do you still message people?
RM: No, thankfully, things have changed after Angrezi Medium. Right now, I'm in a position where I'm getting to choose, which is huge for me. And whatever I do afterwards is going to be my call. But I still audition. I'm not at all egoistic about it, I love giving auditions. I perform better during auditions than I do in films. There's something about it. I don't miss an opportunity to give an audition. Even if they tell me that I don't need one, I still ask for one. I love giving auditions so that neither I nor the other person are doubtful as to whether I'll be able to perform well or not. It should be a happy balance.