Radhika Apte’s International Debut Fails to Impress

Radhika Apte’s International Debut Fails to Impress

Radhika Apte had a significant role in The Wedding Guest opposite Dev Patel but it’s for a lost cause

Though it is a watchable psychological  thriller, Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest has proven to be a fairly disastrous international debut for  the exceptionally talented Radhika Apte.

 As a matter of fact, watching the  film I wondered why she agreed  to do it. She clearly has a subservient role to play  vis-à-vis Dev Patel who co-produces this agreeable but  scarcely memorable drama about a mercenary assassin who is hired to kidnap a Pakistani bride virtually from her wedding venue, by her Indian boyfriend (Jim Sarbh, wasted) in England.

Interesting and provocative premise, and a thoroughly miscast Dev Patel (who looks as  much like an assassin as  Daniel Craig would as an Indian immigrant  in Britain)  brings down the  narrative’s tension. Radhika is just fine as  the  runaway bride. There is an inherent  sense  of danger and doom surrounding her character  and she  serves  the character’s purpose  effectively, even  doing a  steamy  love-making scene (now viral on  the Internet,  so much for plucking relevancy  out of context) with Patel where she exposes more than just her talent. A lot more.

As the  first Indian actress to go nude in a foreign language film (no, make that the second actress, Simi Garewal  had flashed more than her  grin in Conrad Rooks’ Siddharth  eons ago)  one would like to commend Ms Apte for  being so comfortable in her skin. But  the effort is unnecessary, and worse, irrelevant as the  love-making sequence  could have been just effective without the nudity.

The Wedding Guest is not  the British director  Michael Winterbottom’s first  India-based  love story. In 2011 he had cast India’s Freida Pinto and the British-Pakistani Riz Ahmed in Trishna an  adaptation of  the Thomas Hardy literary classic Tess Of  d’Uberville which  sank without trace.

The Wedding Guest seems headed for a similar catastrophe. But it’s good to see Asian actors being  cast in  lead roles in  a bunch  of  recent films: Dev Patel and Radhika Apte in The Wedding Guest, Himesh Patel in Danny Boyle’s Yesterday which opened in India this week and Pakistani-American stand-up comedian Kunal Nanjiani in Stuber which opens worldwide next week. 

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