Radhika Apte plays Noor Inayat Khan in Lydia Dean Pilcher’s World War II drama A Call To Spy. Noor was a British spy of Indian-Muslim origin, who was appointed to Winston Churchill’s secret army of detectives. Her sisters in arms were Virginia Hall and Vega Atkins, played by Sarah Megan Thomas and Stana Katic.
Noor was a wireless operator, sent to the mouth of the war in German-occupied France. After a few months, she was captured by the Nazis and executed. When he died, his last word was ‘free you’.
For Radhika, playing Noor meant a lot of research and discussions with her director. Despite the crucial role that Noor played in the story, not much is known about her, as is the case with most of the world’s heroines. And adding that Noor was a melting pot of half a dozen cultures only made things more complicated.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Radhika said that instead of working to get the accent or gestures right, she chose to focus on bringing Noor’s emotional vulnerability, her heroism, to the screen. “First, I would start with the investigation. I didn’t know much about it, so they gave me a lot of material to read. There were many arguments with Sara, Lydia, and even Stana. There were different things we had read about each other’s characters. We put everything together. She was born in Russia, she was British, she grew up in France, her mother was American, her father was an Indian Muslim, she was a pacifist. It was too overwhelming to understand and know what kind of accent he would have, for example. But then we decided that it was important to connect with the audience instead of trying to imitate something when we don’t know how he was speaking or what his body language was, ”he said.
Radhika says that the team decided to leave their own ‘Khichdi’ accent. “So we decided to keep my accent. My accent is now literally a Khichdi. It has nothing. When I am in India, I sound Indian. When I’m in … the British say why it sounds like this. I am as if not! It’s just that you constantly hear different things, it’s kind of weird. I understand it. Luckily, I don’t listen to myself, ”she said.
A Call To Spy, even though it finds itself right in the middle of WWII, chooses to tell the stories of its three heroines who are bound by duty and the need to prove themselves in the eyes of detractors. As I was coming home. Bollywood is making steady progress in pulling more human stories out of war zones, like Raazi or the more recent Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, these examples are exceptions than the norm.
Radhika agrees that Indian war cinema is still fraught with an overly nationalistic attitude that can sometimes mask true acts of heroism. “Even the United States does that, everyone does that. There are very few movies, like this one, even in Europe (there are probably more movies) that are not so patriotic when it comes to war movies. In India, it is a sensitive issue, let’s say. But yes, all of them are quite nationalistic and we have a long way to go in that sense. How we look at the war on that front is very essential. Sometimes it worries me because we literally have cricket and cinema, two more influential forms. And if this is how we start to look at our neighboring countries and the war, it is a bit concerning. I mean, I understand the situation at the moment, but it’s humans who are being sent there to shoot each other. What is war is something very important to think about, “he said.
Also read: Deepika Padukone enjoys the sun and sandwiches with Siddhant Chaturvedi, Shakun Batra during the making of his next
A Call To Spy airs on Amazon Prime Video since Friday, December 11.
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