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Pataakha sisters Radhika Madan & Sanya Malhotra talk it out!

Pataakha’s lead female protagonists Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra are newbies to Bollywood. But from seeing the trailers, it seems like both are nourished actors who are raring to go. 

Both actresses have a previous success in common. Perhaps it is this factor which is driving them to push their potential as actors. 

For instance, Sanya Malhotra made her debut in Aamir Khan’s Dangal as the wrestler Babita Phogat and received a plethora of acclaim and global success. 

Radhika Madan became an overnight superstar after her hit series Meri Aashiqui Tum Series, which was produced by Ekta Kapoor. 

Both claim that working with Vishal Bhardwaj is a dream come true. However, what is also interesting are their roles in Pataakha.

Radhika essays Champa Kumari, the elder sister to Genda (played by Sanya Malhotra). The two sisters fight viciously and this sibling rivalry takes a different turn when it impacts their married life.

Playing Rajasthani village girls, who swear, smoke and are carefree at the beginning of their careers is what makes the Pataakha girls unconventional, unlike any other Bollywood actress. 

In conversation with Filme Shilmy, Sanya and Radhika open-up about their roles in Pataakha and what drives them to success. 

Sanya: It’s great to see you back on the big screen. We saw you in a de-glam, a formidable and rural avatar in Dangal.

Did some of those preparations help you with enacting your part in this film?

I think both the films are different. Though I’m fighting in this one as well, this is more freestyle.

Both Pataakha and Dangal’s stories are different and the relationship between both sisters are different.

In Dangal, I played a Haryanvi girl and this I play a Rajasthani girl.

These are both very different movies.

Radhika: Your character is a cigarette-smoking & profanity speaking girl, which is unconventional for a Bollywood female protagonist.

How did this role ‘creatively satisfy’ you as an actor?

As soon as I read the script I remember that I just wanted to live Champa Kumari’s life.

I understand what you mean, but she’s not just smoking beedis or swearing.

There’s a lot more to her – especially her dreams, her relationships and how she is living her life.

All of these things inspired and motivated me to play her.

Was it a challenge for you to adapt to Vishal Bhardwaj’s unconventional filmmaking style?

I have seen his films and he shows you the reality. For him black is black and white is white. There is no grey in between.

Of course, to create my character Champa, I had to become her.

We did this by blackening the teeth and getting a tan. This really helped in playing the character and we had a blast doing that.

Credit goes to Vishal sir for his vision and allowing his actors to be that character.

Sanya: Did the fact that you are in a Vishal Bhardwaj film add an element of pressure on you?

There was no pressure on me at all. I know that we cannot create another Dangal or repeat the success of the film.

So, there was no pressure on me.

For me, as an actor, I’ve always been a Vishal Bhardwaj and I always wanted to work with him.

This whole experience has taught me a lot.

My character is completely different from what I am in real life, so that really excited me.

From her journey to how loud she is in her gestures, an actor, I really wanted to press my potential and see whether I could do something or not.

Which is why when I got a call from Vishal Ji and her manager saying that he’s making a film, I got very excited about it.

I really thought he would not take me in his film. I just thought ‘let me audition for it and see whether I can play such a part or not’.

But I’m so grateful that he liked the audition and I’m a part of the film.

Radhika: This is just your second film. Did you feel pressured by the fact you’re starring a Vishal Bhardwaj film?

I have realised that I cannot work hard under pressure.

When I psyche myself out the fact that I’m working under a big banner or project, I can never act and perform.

I didn’t let the fact that I’m working in a Vishal Bhardwaj film get to me.

I’m a huge fan of Vishal sir and it is a DREAM for me to work with him.

When I was working, I thought that he is my director and I’m just his actor. That’s all I believed.

However, when the movie was complete, I was like “excuse me, ladies and gentleman I’ve just done a Vishal Bhardwaj film!” (laughs)

But whilst I was working on the film, I didn’t feel any pressure.

How has the transition been like for you from TV to cinema?

The transition has been great.

Post Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi, I wanted to take a break because I had been doing television non-stop for a good one and a half years.

I really wanted to take a break and unlearn whatever I had learnt.

Then I started auditioning for films and that’s when I got Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota and then I auditioned for Pataakha.

As an actor, I’m learning every day. I learn with every medium.

I learnt so much from television. That was my acting school because I was so raw.

In my transition right now, I am learning about a different side to acting.

Sanya: Has the fact that you’ve worked with Aamir Khan ever made you complacent with the films you choose?

For me, is about whether characters excite me creatively.

Aamir sir taught us that if a character excites you and if you can imagine yourself in it, then go for it.

Pataakha is my fourth film since Dangal, I’ve done two films before this one.

So what really drives me to choose a film is if I can imagine myself in a character and if a film excites me creatively, it’s a yes from my side.

Listen to our interview with both Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra here: 

Radhika: In addition to yourself, there is a wave of several TV actresses coming into Bollywood.

According to you, what will make Radhika Madan stand out from the crowd?

I really don’t compete with myself, let alone anybody else (laughs).

I’m determined to learn. I feel that if I’m learning something every day or if I’m experiencing other aspects of life with every film or project, that is enough for me.

I never think that I should be better than her or whatever. That’s not me.

What I also feel is that there are so many projects and directors, I think everyone should just enjoy themselves.

Sanya: Finally, there is a wave of new talents coming into the industry. What would be your advice on survival?

Patience. That is something which I’ve learnt from being in this industry.

One needs to have a lot of trust in their craft and whatever they are doing.

Plus, it’s important to enjoy the journey and not overthink.

This is the reason why I took some time off after Dangal and I was just trying to enjoy the life.

Pataakha releases in cinemas on 28th September 2018. 

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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