Radhika Madan on 'Kacchey Limbu' premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival

The Bollywood actress opened up on the universal theme of the coming-of-age film.


Enid Grace Parker

Published: Wed 14 Sep 2022, 11:26 AM

Last updated: Wed 14 Sep 2022, 5:04 PM

Bollywood actress Radhika Madan (English Medium, Pataakha) was understandably thrilled that her latest film, Kacchey Limbu, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 11.

The coming-of-age sibling drama with the backdrop of what is arguably India’s most popular sport - cricket - is among three independent Indian films being presented at the festival. The others are Zwigato, from actor-producer Nandita Das, which is themed around the gig economy in India with a focus on the food delivery industry; there’s also Tora’s Husband, a family drama by filmmaker Rita Das based in Eastern India.

When we caught up with Radhika, she expressed excitement at being part of the long-running Toronto Festival, now one of the world’s most popular annual events focusing on cinema.

While Bollywood blockbusters riding on star power often dominate theaters in India, independent films have been known to struggle to make their presence felt.

Radhika feels the international film festival circuit does much to spread awareness about stories that deserve to be seen and heard.

“Of course the film gains a much wider reach,” she told City Times, adding, “I feel really proud to represent India at this international festival. The film premiered at the Roy Thomson hall which was huge, and the response that we got from the audience was really overwhelming. I think when you make any film with utmost honesty, you surpass the language barrier. And it just connects.”

It’s Radhika’s second time at TIFF, after winning the Midnight Madness award in 2018 for Mard ko Dard Nahin Hota and she’s thrilled to be back.

“People are saying, you must be more confident because you’ve been here, and I’m like, no, I’m even more nervous and excited! We never set out to make a good film; we set out to make a honest film, so we never thought that it would get this kind of appreciation. We are just feeling really overwhelmed and grateful right now. I’m waiting to see how people view the film and what their perspective is.”

Kacchey Limbu stars Rajat Barmecha (Udaan, Warrior Savitri) as Akash, a talented cricketer eyeing a place on the national team. Radhika plays his sister Aditi, whose life revolves around appeasing her parents through various means be it learning Bharatnatyam or preparing for medical entrance exams. But does she really love any of these pursuits?

Sibling rivalry

When an exciting opportunity presents itself for Akash, Radhika forms her own ragtag cricket team to convince Akash to adhere to his parents’ dreams of him scoring a corporate job. Will both their aspirations evolve and change within the dynamics of a typical middle-class Indian family?

Radhika said “all siblings” would enjoy watching Kacchey Limbu which despite its local setting has a universal theme.

“I have a brother and I had a very similar relationship with him; I used to copy every single thing that he used to do! I’ve actually taken a lot of inspiration from my personal life for the film,” she shared.

She called her Kacchey Limbu character someone who is seemingly content with belonging to the “middle category” of life and hasn’t “found her own voice yet”.

“Aditi is not a topper but she doesn’t fail - she lies in that in-between category where 90 or more than 90 percent of people are; they just get swayed by what people around them are doing, be it their families, friends or somebody they look up to. So Kacchey Limbu is a coming-of-age (story), where it is so important that she finds her own voice and asserts it.”

Commenting on how it was “really sad” how a lot of women don’t have the freedom to pursue dreams of their own, she said, “Their dreams are decided by everyone around them; I believe Kacchey Limbu is a very relevant and very relatable story.”

“As good as your co-actors”

Working with actors Rajat Barmecha and Call My Agent’s Ayush Mehra (who plays a pivotal role and is making his feature film debut with Kacchey Limbu), was “amazing”, said Radhika. “They are so honest to their craft and I really believe that you are as good as your co-actors. It helped me to play my character well because I had to just react to them; they were so true to their own characters. So it was a lot of fun.”

Shubham Yogi is making his feature film debut as a director and in a recent interview with an Indian news outlet called Kacchey Limbu “a story I have lived with for a long time”. He also spoke of how he was fortunate to find producers who believed in the film.

Radhika shared her thoughts on the need to find like-minded people for the pursuit of one’s creative vision.

“I think it’s really important,” said Radhika, adding, “It’s a two-way street. If you believe in them, they need to believe in you, otherwise things won’t work. You need to have creative freedom. They (the producers) just put us on a playground and asked us to play, and we feel really fortunate.”

Stories based on sibling relationships are not too common in Bollywood nowadays, the most recent one being Akshay Kumar's Raksha Bandhan. What makes Kacchey Limbu different from others?

Kacchey Limbu is a very light film. It might speak about gender bias; it might speak about what women have to go through to even have the smallest of dreams and to find their own voice, but it is not preachy in any way. I feel when you’re trying to sell them a point, people get uncomfortable . It is a very easy-breezy film. It speaks volumes subliminally and I think that’s the magic of my director Shubham Yogi. I can bet that every sibling will relate to Kacchey Limbu because it is something we have seen a lot while growing up.”

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