Actresses Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra, who play feuding sisters in Vishal Bhardwaj’s latest film, Pataakha, don’t have a lot in common except that they are from Delhi and have terpsichorean talent.
Madan, 23, a motormouth, is an erstwhile student of choreographer Ashley Lobo’s DanceWorx. Malhotra, 26, is a freestyle dancer who is soft-spoken and takes time to open up.
Madan’s first acting gig came at the age of 19 as the heroine of a Balaji TV show, Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi. “I was paid to learn acting,” she says, insisting she was “really bad” in the first three months of the show. Malhotra, after rejection in a dance reality show, got her big break at 24 as wrestler Babita Phogat in Dangal.
“I didn’t have to stand in queues for auditions after that,” she says.
“People would tell me once you are a TV actress, you cannot do movies,” said Madan. “But I used to disagree.” After the TV show wrapped up, Madan took a break “to unlearn”. She was chosen to play a martial artist in filmmaker Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, which won an audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival recently. “Badki is bossy and thinks she is the ‘it thing’,” she says of her character in Pataakha. “She feels Chutki [younger sister] is stupid and immature.”
A few days after Dangal’s release, Malhotra received a script from The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra, titled Photograph. “I didn’t know life would get so easy and so good,” she says. Malhotra had just finished shooting Badhai Ho (releases on October 19) when she was called to test for Pataakha. “During the first reading, I zoned out because I remembered these beautiful black-and-white photos of the Maqbool cast reading.”
Malhotra is nothing like the character she plays. “She [Chutki] is spiteful, aggressive, loud and speaks her mind,” she said. Maybe that’s why all the fictional fighting seems to have disappeared when the two left the set, based on their bonhomie in interviews and their lip-syncing videos, boomerang posts and selfies on social media.
Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra portray feuding sisters in Vishal Bhardwaj’s new film, Pataakha