Radhika Madan would have had a different, more conventional Bollywood story to narrate had she not been spotted by director Vasan Bala's team for "Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota" while she was all set to audition for "Laila Majnu".
The actor went to audition for the Imtiaz Ali-backed modern day re-telling of the epic romance. But, as fate would have it, she was instead zeroed in as a feisty martial artiste in the action-comedy.
"For 'Laila Majnu', I was pretty excited because I thought I would get to be Laila in my debut film which will be shot in Kashmir. And here, there was this action film script, a genre which I've never liked. If given a chance I would go for a rom-com or any other genre film but this," Radhika said.
"But something inside me knew I had to do this. I knew 'Laila Majnu' in that sense was conventional, I'd look a certain way, it'll be treated in a certain way but there was so much of uniqueness to this film, I said chuck everything I'm doing this one," she added.
"Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota" received a thunderous response in its India premiere at the 20th edition of JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, Friday night.
The film chronicles the story of a young man born without pain receptors who longs to defeat 100 opponents in a kumite tournament.
The warm home reception comes a month after the film bagged People's Choice Award in the Midnight Madness section at Toronto International Film Festival.
Radhika, who was nervous how the film would be received, said the response is "surreal and overwhelming."
"When we were making this film, we knew it is going to be dicey, because it is a very different subject. It's so original, so fresh I was blown away. It involved that amount of risk too, whether the audience would be accepting or not," she added.
She said the team was very scared and did not think they stand a chance to be selected for TIFF and win an award there. "We were more scared for the home premiere because we didn't know whether they'll accept it or not. This is so new," she said.
In the film, Radhika will be seen doing heavy-duty martial arts and has performed all the stunts herself. Since she was so far removed from action, the actor watched all the classic films from the genre for several days with a break of 20 min between each. She recalled, "We were injured, had a lot of bruises but that became a part of the training."
Not just physical, Radhika said she was also trained psychologically to be in her character of a martial artist. "Apart from having a strict diet and a daily routine of exercises, we were asked to stay calm from within. There was a lot of mental training involved as well. A character like this can be taxing but that's the beauty of the film. It was such a new experience," she added.
The film, particularly its climax, was so physically and mentally draining that by the end of it, Radhika could barely stand. "I shot for my climax sequence for over 12 hours with just a 20 min break in between. There's a scene where I fall, which wasn't planned or choreographed. But I had no energy to even stand and so I fell. But it was all worth it," she said.
The film stars Abhimanyu Dassani, son of actor Bhagyashree, Gulshan Devaiah, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jimit Drivedi and is backed by Ronnie Screwvala through his RSVP Films.
(With PTI Inputs)