Netflix has given us 3 terrible actors with its 3 Indian originals - Radhika Apte, Radhika Apte and Radhika Apte

She is like Haruki Murakami's cat. She simply has to haunt every Netflix Indian original.

 |  4-minute read |   27-08-2018
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By the time Radhika Apte broke into Bolly-sphere, the Indian audience had already given up on waiting for the ultimate feminist actor. Weary of bespectacled and saree-draped NGO activism, Indian audience wanted a feminist who could sport both activism and a Dolce and Gabbana, and yet look as powerful and smart like Shabana (okay, we know you have heard that joke before). But when there was none for long, we were happy with the women's lib dished out to us in a bikini, and celebrated the right to wear one on screen as empowerment.

Then, Radhika Apte happened to us.

When Apte entered the scene, we were hopeful of finally having someone who could breathe sensuality into activism.

But sadly, the 'thinking cinema's poster girl' has torn apart all such notions with a string of dreary, stereotyped performances, once again making it clear that the Indian woman will always be a 'spectacle' looking at herself through the male gaze.  

radhika-lust-stories_082718084422.jpgYet another spectacle: We have seen enough of Radhika Apte in those head-nodding, gesticulating  performances. (Credit: Netflix)

The problem here is not too much Radhika Apte on Netflix (Indian original series), but sad acting, unconvincing characters and dialogues thrown around too casually — the typical uppitiness of the art world which thinks the moron in Indian audiences will accept it readily. Actually, the moron does.

Bollywood's biggest disservice to feminism is not its andocentricism, but the token feminism that it tries to shove down our throats.

Radhika Apte's terribly essayed characters and horribly monotonous lines make it impossible to believe that it's the same actor who was applauded for her "powerful" acting in films like Parched, Phobia, Badlapur and numerous other productions. In fact, her body of work is huge and admirable (actually with more admirable names associated with her) for a young actor in her early 30s.

Then what happened all of a sudden?

Why does it feel so suffocating to watch the same Apte, who looked absolutely ravishing and mysterious in Ahalya, or that innocent but resolute girl in That Day After Everyday? Or was it the sheer brilliance of her directors and the minimal dialogues or the near-neurotic head movements and confused looks, blathering about love and desire in fits of symbolic sexual liberation?

Showbiz can be ruthless, but the Indian audience is way too patient. And impressionable too. We tend to revere alpha males like Anurag Kashyap and accept every bit of stunt that he throws at us in the name of "powerful cinema". (It's like Mr Kashyap has bought our souls with a few exceptionally good films. Okay, he is brilliant — but that still doesn't absolve him of his sins of trying our patience.) And once you are a Kashyap regular — like Apte — neither any serious film critic, nor the depressed and out-of-work movie buff dares to point fingers at you and your acting, or the lack of it.

ghoul-embed_08241812_082718084738.jpgThe poster of Netflix TV series, Ghoul. (Photo credit: Netflix)

In a nepotism-infested Hindi film industry, there is another kind of woke-washing that happens in the name of "Phantom" and not-so-Phantom movies, by the way.

While Radhika Apte is still glowing in her Netflix hat-trick — Lust Stories, Sacred Games, and the recently released Ghoul — the patient audience in us is finally losing it. This is not to say that Apte and the characters played by her were the only flaws in the three Netflix offerings.

There are an endless number of things that could be listed as poor about them, but we are here not to review those Netflix presentations.

So coming back to Apte, her "fiery-liberated" college professor Kalindi (Lust Stories) looked confusing and tedious to bear. There was hardly anything RAW agent-like in her Anjali Mathur portrayal (Sacred Games), not to mention the sudden surge of feminism every time she felt discriminated against and relegated to a desk job because of her gender. Her latest, military officer Nida Rahim (Ghoul), is even more disappointing. A trained military officer who is naive enough not to know what would happen to her "terror suspect" father when ratted on by his own daughter. Firstly, that's a huge insult to military training and their intelligence. Secondly, Apte and her mentors are too naive to think they can fool the audience with scenes heavily influenced by American crime dramas. Have we not binge-watched enough of Criminal Minds or Homeland? Even a comic Castle is less irritating and more professional.

The three most jarring facts that I found about the three Netflix ventures are — Radhika Apte, Radhika Apte and Radhika Apte.

Also read: Yeh ghoul-istaan hamaara? Netflix’s Ghoul is a clever 'anti-nationalistic' story using the framework of horror

Writer

Sanghamitra Baruah Sanghamitra Baruah

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