Radhika Apte has carved a niche for herself as a dependable actor not only in Hindi cinema but in Marathi, Bengali and films down South as well. For instance, she acted opposite superstar Rajinikanth in Kabali and held her own. She has this inherent ability to get under the skin of her characters with ease and can be relied upon to do complete justice to every role she gets. Presenting a list of her best movies down the years…
Manjhi: The Mountain Man (2015)
Director: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte
It’s a film based on the life of Dashrath Manjhi. Manjhi, widely known as the ‘Mountain Man’. Manjhi was a poor labourer in Gehlaur village, near Gaya in Bihar, India, who carved a 25 feet deep, 30 feet wide and 360 feet long path through a hill using only a hammer and chisel, working tirelessly for close to 22 years at a stretch. Dashrath Manjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) lives in a small village near Gaya, Bihar, with his wife Phaguniya Devi (Radhika Apte) and his son. There’s a rocky mountain near his village that people either had to climb or travel round to gain access to medical care at the nearest town Wazirganj. One day Manjhi’s pregnant wife falls down while trying to cross the mountain and eventually dies giving birth to a girl. Saddened by her loss and enraged by grief, Manjhi decides to teach the mountain a lesson and for 22 years struggles to carve a path through it. He’s made much fun of by the other villagers but doesn’t give up the project. His success proves that mountains indeed can be moved if you have the required faith. The chemistry between Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte is excellent. Nawazuddin shines both as a young husband and as a bitter old man who struggles against all odds to fulfil his vow. Ironically, after the real Manjhi’s death in 2010, the government finally built a concrete road to their village.
Director: Leena Yadav
Cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla, Adil Hussain, Lehar Khan, Sayani Gupta
Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), is a doting mother who wants her wayward son Gulab (Riddhi Sen) to grow up and tend to his responsibilities. Lajjo (Radhika Apte) is Rani’s friend and is a housewife who’s much abused by her husband for being infertile. Bijli (Surveen Chawla), who despite being a prostitute is still accepted as their friend and her exploits kind of brings a vicarious pleasure to the other women. The women have had enough of the patriarchal rules put up by the male-dominated society and decide to rebel. Lajjo sleeps with another man in order to get pregnant, Rani sells off her house to pay off her debts, then releases her daughter-in-law out of the forced marriage and asks her to be with her childhood sweetheart. They understand they’ll never be able to live according to their own norms in their village and decide to run away together in search of better prospects. The film was praised for its bold content. And for striking a blow against patriarchy. The performances of the three leads carried the film and came in for a lot of plaudits.
Director: Pavan Kirpalani
Cast: Radhika Apte, Satyadep Mishra, Ankur Vikal
Radhika Apte plays Mehak, an artist suffering from acute agoraphobia which was triggered by her being molested by a taxi driver. She can’t make herself come out of the house and this starts affecting her relationship with her initially supportive sister. A family friend forcibly takes her to his now empty flat, reasoning that living alone would make her snap out of her condition. She makes friends with Nikki (Yashaswini Dayama), a college-going girl who is her next-door-neighbour. Her other neighbour Manu (Ankur Vikal) is working on anger management issues and is part of a community laughter club. Manu’s girlfriend Jiah (Amrita Bagchi) used to live in the flat earlier and he has been upset ever since she left him without any explanation. Mehak is convinced Jiah was killed as she starts getting visions. But that theory goes for a toss when Jiah returns one day to get her things. Mehak realises the visions she keeps seeing are actually of her own future self, who are warning her of a calamity. Assured of the knowledge of her survival, she does venture outside when danger strikes and manages to reach out to people, overcoming her phobia. Radhika Apte was praised for her superlative acting in the film.
Pad Man (2018)
Director: R Balki
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte
In India, men still behave as if periods don’t exist and a large number of women still don’t have access to sanitary pads. Pad Man is a fictionalised account of the life of Arunachalam Murganatham. He understood that only a meagre percentage of women in India use sanitary pads and went on to create a low-cost process for making sanitary napkins. Today, women cooperatives across India use his technology to make low-cost sanitary products. In 2014, Time magazine included him as one of the 100 most influential people across the world. In 2016, The Indian government awarded him with a Padma Shri. Thanks to his efforts, the taboos associated with menstruation and menstrual hygiene are slowly getting broken at the grassroots level. Akshay Kumar, who played the lead role, embodied the spirit of Arunachalam Murganatham. It was a sincere effort on the actor’s part. His speech towards the end about why he thought of making affordable sanitary pads, though long, was straight from the heart. You felt you’re watching someone with genuine concern for women and not just an actor going through the paces. Radhika Apte acted as the Muse for Akshay’s character. He was moved by all the trouble she faced during the days she was getting her periods. She was made to sleep in the balcony and didn’t even have access to sanitary pads as they were too costly. That’s when he decided to invent an economically viable alternative.
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, Anil Dhawan, Manav Vij, Zakir Hussain
Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a talented pianist who pretends to be blind because he feels it’ll help enhance his craft. He’s having a fling with Sophie (Radhika Apte), who doesn’t know he’s acting. She begins to love him despite his handicap. A faded yesteryears star Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan), is enamoured by his talent and invites him over for a private performance on the occasion of his anniversary, meaning it to be as a surprise for his much younger wife, Simi (Tabu). Unfortunately for everyone involved, Pramod has been killed by Simi’s paramour, (played by Manav Vij) and the ‘blind’ piano player witnesses the duo disposing off the body. He soon finds that his handicap isn’t going to help him flee the clutches of the criminals after all.
Director: Pia Sukanya
Cast: Radhika Apte, Siddhanth Kapoor, Akshay Oberoi, Adil Hussain, Ravi Kishan
Meghna Shergill (Radhika Apte), is a PR professional working for maverick superstar Karan Kapoor (Ravi Kishan). Her phone gets snatched by a delivery boy (Siddhanth Kapoor), when they get involved in a traffic accident. She borrows the phone of a helpful stranger Pintu (Akshay Oberoi), to sort things out on the work front and to get her phone back. Meanwhile, an encounter specialist working undercover (Amit Sial) is targeting people under instructions from jailed politician Pandya (Adil Hussain). How their worlds collide and how the mess Meghna is in gets evened out forms the crux of the film. Radhika Apte once again proved with the film that you can put her in anything and she’ll deliver.
Raat Akeli Hai (2020)
Director: Honey Trehan
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Shweta Tripathi, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Nishant Dahiya, Ila Arun, Swanand Kirkire, Shreedhar Dubey and Aditya Srivastava
A wealthy landlord, with political connections aplenty, gets murdered in his own home the night he got married the second time. The usual suspects are his immediate family comprising his own son and daughter, his widowed sister-in-law and her two grown-up kids and his daughter’s husband, as well as his new-bride Radha (Radhika Apte), who was living-in as his mistress for some time. Inspector Jatil Yadav (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is assigned the case and his superiors want a quick result. As he proceeds with his investigation, numerous family skeletons come tumbling out, the mysteries get murkier and more bodies pile-up. Radhika Apte comes across as the victim at first and goes through several changes as the film progresses. She deftly brings out the different aspects of her character and makes you root for Radha.