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Radhika Apte on Netflix’s ‘Ghoul’, Memes and Marijuana Legalisation

Her omnipresence is about to get a boost with 'Ghoul', and after enjoying her warm steeliness in 'Sacred Games', we’re pretty excited.
Radhika Apte after a gruelling day of media. Image: Parthshri Arora

Some factually correct statements I can safely assume about Radhika Apte in 2018: She is on an all-consuming cultural hot streak thanks to her filmography. She is a Netflix darling. And, that she met me in a vanity van and we chatted about memes and marijuana.

In the wiener carnival that is Bollywood, Apte’s quest for legit recognition has gone through large troughs and crests. She’s currently riding the high. She was in 11 films in 2015, including a couple in Malayalam and Telugu, and also appeared in a Bengali TV show. Her prolific output escalated in 2018, with a stellar lot of cultural touchstones like Sacred Games , Lust Stories and Padman, all iconic, in one way or another.


Additionally, Apte’s public persona has become emblematic of the #wokewave, with the actor coming out in support of the #MeToo campaign, while shutting down a scribe who implied that she was leaking her own “bold scenes” to be successful. Her celebrity is two parts maniacal acting skills and one part taking the #YaasQueen baton from Kangana Ranaut.

Radhika Apte in Ghoul. Image: Netflix

Fascinatingly, Apte’s moment is happening when she’s 32, around the age when Hindi film producers start phasing out women, regardless of ability. Rani Mukherjee, for example, didn’t forget how to act when the clock hit 12 on her 30th birthday; it's just that the dudes with the moneybags just like their money-spinning Cinderellas young.

Fortunately for them, Apte’s omnipresence is about to cast an even wider net with Netflix’s upcoming thriller-horror mini-series Ghoul, and after enjoying her warm steeliness in Sacred Games, we’re pretty excited.

VICE: On a scale of 0 to shitting-my-pants, how scary is Ghoul?
Radhika Apte: I think more than scary-scary, it’s more like you’re at the edge of your seat; sort of disturbing.

Why were you interested in the project?
I think the arc of the character is very interesting. And I really like the set-up of the project. It’s quite an ambiguous place, dystopian time. I wanted to be a part of that.

With Ahalya , Phobia and Ghoul , three varied horror-themed projects you’ve been a part of, how do you emotionally navigate between being the scared party to the one doing the scaring?
Just treating different projects differently. People compare only when they’re watching something together, they try then to bracket something. My character in Ghoul and Phobia have no comparison.


Because of increasing expectations from our movie-going populace, do you feel the way you pick movies has transcended the idea of an actor just picking movies? Is there more to it?
I think the media’s done it more than I’ve done it. I just pick what I want to pick. Whatever you get offered, you pick whatever suits your instinctive inclination at that point of time. I’m not really big on strategically planning.

With the weight of that out of the way, how about we move into some lighter questions?
You can ask anything you want!

Okay. Which two actors would you pick to make a road movie?
(Laughs) God, I’m so bad at these questions! But I’d pick myself and Kalki, because we’re such good friends.

Tell us about the weirdest way someone has hit on you? How did you deal with it?
I was at this place where there was a really cute waiter. His other waiter friend sent me two notes with my food. One said, “He’s seriously into you,” and the second one was, “He’s too shy, please ask him out”. So I did.

Do you have a favourite meme?
I got trolled for this Netflix thing. I was holidaying at the time, and one of my idiot friends was like, ‘You don’t know memes Radi,’ and showed me one. It was against me, so I shouldn't be promoting it. But it was so funny. It said, “Sometimes when I’m upset with journalists or something, my face looks like when the paani puri dish is over, and I’m waiting for the shakha puri”. My face looks exactly like that! I thought it was really creative and precise.


What music cheers you up when you’re sad?
There are certain tracks that my mother used to listen to, so I’d heard them growing up. They just transport me to that time and it makes me happy.

(Sings) I’m on, top of the world, looking down on creation.

What’s your biggest vice?
Chocolate? Actually, my biggest vice is addiction.

Addiction to what?
Just addiction. Being addicted to something or the other. I need to be addicted to something at every point of time.

What are you addicted to right now?
I can’t tell you!

Where do you stand on the marijuana legalisation movement in India?
Totally should legalize.

Why not?

In the West, celebrities supported the movement. Do you think celebrities in India should follow??
I am not going to name anyone. I just think that bans promote what is prohibited more than when it is not banned.

What was the last time you cried after watching a film?
I cry all the time. I got quite spooked recently watching this documentary The Jinx, especially the last two minutes I was like, ‘Oh my God’.

What are your favourite Netflix shows?
Lots of them. Sacred Games. The Crown. Even The Sinner I enjoyed quite a lot.

So it’s an average Saturday night–where are you most likely to be, and doing?
I like to go out for drinks with friends. I don’t usually like noisy places, but once in a blue moon, I enjoy it.

Ghoul releases on Netflix on August 24.

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