Radhika Apte, known for her acting chops and challenging roles, recently spoke on gender disparity in South Indian films. She specifically mentioned an incident on the sets of a Telugu film where she was getting ready for the shot, and the star walked in and started tickling her feet. Of course, both were not even acquaintances.
This incident was revealed by Radhika Apte when she took part on Neha Dhupia's show 'BFFs with Vogue', along with Bollywood actor Rajkummar Rao. Neha asked Radhika if there was any gender disparity in south Indian films, Radhika clarified that she would not generalise but shared her experience of shooting for a Telugu film.
“My first day in that Telugu film... There is a scene where I am lying because I am not well. There are a lot of people, and so everything was set, and I was lying there. And then the actor walks in. Everything is set, and we have been rehearsing. He walks in, and I don’t even know him, and he starts tickling my feet!” Radhika said.
"He was a big actor and I was told that he is powerful. But the natural who I am, I got up, and I snapped at him in front of literally everybody, like the whole crew, the junior artists. And I looked at him and said, 'don’t ever, ever do that to me'. I was so angry; I wanted to stress on the word 'ever, ever!' He looked at me as he didn’t expect it. But he never touched me again,” Radhika added.
Radhika said that men are quite powerful in the south industries but pointed out that her experience working with Rajinikanth in Kabali was the nicest. "He was the nicest and the most wonderful human being."
The actress continued and said that she was not generalising that the entire South Indian film industry is like that, but it was just in reference to the two Telugu films she acted in. Many actresses have spoken about incidents of harassment and sexual abuse in the film industry.
Adding to this, the trend of elderly stars (while still playing a young playboy hero) acting with at least two heroines half their age is still prevalent. Though the trend is changing and stars are turning into characters, the pace of change is quite slow.
It can be noted that in some of the superstar movies, the roles of heroines are also limited to just glorifying the hero. These issues not only apply to the South Indian film industry, but to the entire Indian film industry.
But as Radhika said, she snapped, and then the actor did not dare to harass her again. Thus, it is important to make it known to the person that you will not take it. Or are the actresses (who have not grown to the stature of Radhika Apte) still are threatened and scared that they will be ousted from the film industry?