Radhika Apte, like you've never seen her before Advertisement

Radhika Apte, like you’ve never seen her before

The low-key star brings a relaxed sweetness and subtlety to the movies — and to make-up

By ELLE team  April 12th, 2017

In Bollywood terms, Radhika Apte is an anomaly. Scan her short but emphatic body of work and you’ll know why. For starters, she has acted in seven languages, including Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. Her choice of films, from the commercially successful Lai Bhaari (2014) to festival favorite Parched (2015), is always discerning, And no matter how little her screen time, Apte never fails to make a lasting impression.

The Pune-native cut her teeth in theatre with the contemporary group Aasakta, and got her first big break in 2009 with Antaheen, a National Award-winning Bengali film. Since then, she has been testing new waters with every project, and within the last two years has gathered an enviable portfolio. There are the commercial Badlapur (2015) and Kabali (2016), in which she played the female lead opposite superstar Rajinikanth. The indie films Hunterrr and Manjhi: The Mountain Man (both 2015) that won her critical accolades. Her short film, Ahalya, with director Sujoy Ghosh, got as much attention as a mainstream feature. She also won Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival last year for her role in Anurag Kashyap’s Clean Shaven, a six-part anthology film about love. Apte then proved her mettle as a protagonist in Leena Yadav’s Parched and the psychological thriller, Phobia (2016). At 31, she’s older than your average heroine, but refuses to pander to the trappings of mainstream fame. She doesn’t hold with elaborate marketing or get swept up in S/M news cycles, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. So, it’s no surprise that Apte openly called out the Telugu film industry’s patriarchy and referenced her nude scenes in Parched as “liberating” when they went viral.

When we meet Apte at her house, she seems relaxed after a six-month break. “Right now, I don’t have many plans for the year, which is such a nice feeling. I finally feel like I am out of the pressure of comparing myself to what others are doing,” she says. This break will be short-lived as she already has two films lined up for release—an action-horror film, Ghoul, and a comedy, Bombairiya. She will also be shooting for Padman, a biopic on the man who found a way to make sanitary napkins affordable in India. While she can’t say much about any of these films, she did talk to ELLE about political correctness and loving her job.

Radhika Apte on feeding her craft

“I was a kathak dancer in school, then I studied contemporary dance later and I really loved it. An old friend suggested I go to London and pursue it. At that time, I had already done a few films and I had five plays running—so, I couldn’t just take off. [Then in 2011] I gave the theatre company three months’ notice and decided to take a sabbatical to learn contemporary dance at London’s Trinity Laban. The year-and-a-half-long experience gave me so much perspective on physical theatre and movement analysis as an actor.”

Radhika on the importance of change

“As an actor, you have to do different things. I can’t do rom-coms all my life. Personally, I like to challenge myself with films like Parched and Phobia. In Phobia, I play a girl suffering from agoraphobia; I had to be careful to make her believable without being over the top. Her character is so erratic and irrational, but I had to make sure the audience felt sympathetic towards her. On the other side, Parched was a different kind of challenge because I couldn’t relate to the character. I had to learn the body language and thought process of a person who has zero—no, negative—confidence and still lives happily.”

Radhika on resisting stardom

“Nobody makes me feel important, and it’s a good thing they haven’t reached that level. I find it very tough and even irritating to be treated like a star. I used to be opposed to PR, but I have now found a ground where it can be done in an ethical way for me, not by fabricating stories or constantly tweeting. This way, I still portray my real self and that makes me very happy.”

Radhika on making a difference

“I don’t understand why there’s this idea that I only do women-oriented films about women’s oppression. I am a complete feminist, but why do people think I am going to take this social cause to another level? My job is to act and my work speaks for itself—people always mix that up.”

Radhika Apte adds edge to nonchalant make-up


The shortest route to the lived-in kind of pretty involves leaving out the eyeliner and mascara. If you’re a devotee, it will take some getting used to— till then, just marvel at how it can even make bright eyeshadow look

Poplin shirt, Marks & Spencer.

Polyester jacket, Salvatore Ferragamo


There’s no wrong way to wear purple lips. It can be barely-there, bright or even vampy. For a casual look, line and fill your lips with a berry lipliner, then dab on a lilac lipstick, like Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in Superstitious
Matte, ` 2,700.

Cotton T-shirt, Zara.

Nylon mesh tunic, Savio Jon.

Metal asymmetric earrings, Dior


Every part of your face will benefit from a touch of shine. a hint on the Cupid's bow or along the cheekbones is a great highlight, but go for a flash of silver on the inner corners of your eyes to look refreshed. Try an upbeat metallic, like L'Oreal  Paris Infallible Silkissme Eyeliner in Silver, Rs 575.

Quilted bodice, metal choker with antique gold finish, star metal choker; all Dior


Rethink your idea of metallic eyes for a ridiculously gleaming look. Paint the lids with a creamy shadow and top it off with a little gloss or balm. For an easier, one-step trick, try a liquid eyeshadow like Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art, ` 750.

Viscose crop top, Fendi.

Polyester pleated skirt, Marks & Spencer

Cotton twill jacket dress, Nishka Lulla.

Metal earrings with pearls, Dior


Coloured ears may sound ridiculous (let’s face it, crazier things have happened), but we can’t stop looking at them. It’s the most unassuming way to do quasi ear jewels and bring more colour to the face—subtle yet surprising. We’re partial to pastels, of course.

Cotton T-shirt, H&M.

Textured neoprene jacket, Rajesh Pratap Singh.

Metal earrings with pearls, Dior