SimplyBhangra.com's Monika Plaha and Maya Patel caught up with Reece Ritchi and Amara Karan at the Premiere of It’s a ‘All in good time’. Directed by Nigel Cole, ‘All in good time’ is a topical, contemporary take on Ayub Din Khans stage play ‘Rafta Rafta’.
Set in Bolton’s in the current day, Atul (Reece Ritchie) possesses colossal demands of living up to the expectations of his archetypal Indian Father (Harish Patel), whereby all of Atul’s life, the restricted communication boundary between father and son has never truly been defeated, imposing difficulties upon Atul to live his life liberally with content.
The first scene is of Atuls wedding day, where he takes Vina’s (Amara Karan) hand in marriage, eager to spend the rest of his life with her. The innocent, loved up couple have dreamt of their first night together being perfect and passionate but it all hits home when their reality is nothing like how they envisioned their romantic married life to be.
And just when it couldn’t get any worse, their honey moon gets cancelled and they’re forced to spend what was meant to be a dreamy, endearing week away in Goa, stumped back at home in Bolton with the in-laws!
How did you get into and connect with the character you played on set and make it your own?
This is a funny question because Atul starts of naïve and not very confident at all, he’s merely in a shadow of his father which is extremely different to me so I really had to think about what it’s like not to have a voice. I went down to the set in Bolton and looked at the environment that Atul was living in and what it was like to live in such a compact house in a small bedroom. I also wanted to nail the accent, so we looked at how the locals in Bolton talk plus the way Amir Khan talks we also went shopping together for costumes then all these pieces slowly drift in and come together and a character is formed!
It’s an extremely collaborative thing, it’s all about the writer’s vision on the play yet it’s a linear jump from the play on stage to the actual film. You also have Nigel Coles vision and then you have the actor’s vision plus the people you work with have a huge influence. What I did was bring in my personal experiences, I personalised things and thought about how something would affect me in real life. I would go through the script and make notes on key scenes and relate them to my previous memories and photograph it.
Acting is brilliant; it can take you to any moment of your life happy or sad. But everybody has different approached towards acting; some people can just have the talent of turning up and going for it whilst others have to carefully read through it and really relate to it.
Working with some of the great names in British Indian comedy, it must have been a great vibe on set! How was the atmosphere like shooting the film?
Yeah, we all got on so well, the director Nigel Cole was really cool, he was like one of those gently, cool, hippy, bohemian directors. Meera Syal and Harish Patel were also great to work with it was an awesome atmosphere!
Meera Syal is like the nations favorite British Indian comedian, is she as funny in real life as she is on set?
Meera Syal is fantastic but actually serious, not in a bad way at all just extremely professional! She keeps herself to herself; she’s not the sort of person to come out with loads of jokes. She’s an expert and is really good at getting into character and playing her role.
She made me feel extremely welcome in the house as a daughter in law (laughs) but she actually invited me to be a part of one of her charity projects which I am really excited about.
Traditionally in Indian films sex is seen as a type of taboo, it’s great how honest and open this film is! Do you think this film helps to reduce this conventional view?
If you imply moving forward then that’s insinuating it’s backwards, but it’s not. Everyone has different perceptions in different cultures. The film isn’t and is about sex, you can definitely take your family to go and see this movie after all it’s a 12a. There are some things that you don’t talk to parents about, in every culture it’s not just with Asians. Atul struggles with talking to his dad, and in one scene between him and his father Atul says ‘why is it so hard for us to talk about things?’ and the father replies ‘because you’ve never wanted to before’ then when they do start talking he goes ‘how’s work’ but Atul doesn’t want to talk about work, he wants to talk about something else but doesn’t have the confidence to talk openly- there is a great miss communication between son and father!
Did Meera and Harish give you any tips as they worked on stage in ‘rafta rafta’?
It’s an unwritten rule you don’t tell actors how to act – I think it’s out of respect that you just don’t tell people. Everyone’s got their own piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Harish and Meera were very graceful- but I was the new kid on the block, I really just wanted to find out more, don’t forget screenplay is very different to stage play, both were never going to be the same so they were figuring out stuff themselves too.
They were very supportive, they did mention few things but didn’t tell us what to do they did say maybe you might want to rethink doing this and gave us other choices. It was really interesting to know what their insights were after doing the play for such a long time, and we knew they were ahead of me in terms of their instinctive choices. There were times were Harish would tell me to ‘do things the Indian way’ – physically move me around in the scene.
You’ve worked with Peter Jackson before in ‘the lovely bones’ how was adaptation working from supernatural to a more comical film?
This isn’t strictly a comical movie; it has its funny moments though. I love the lovely bones and I worked with some amazing people. I went in on the Tuesday, did 1 take on the Friday they called said I got the part. Most surreal moment, previous parts I had to slave for months, doing recalls, travel backwards and forwards, with this it seemed a bit too easy. But coming onto this got I had more responsibility – it’s a different kettle of fish really.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There are so many, possibly this film was the highlight! When I got the call and saw the script I was like oh my god! Once in a lifetime opportunity. Actually I think my career has changed, this has become a turning point in my career, although not really like that – it’s an accumulative thing –all your hard work for many years you get the chance to do things when chances appear to you, it was special – biggest part to date so big pressure an extremely monument occasion.
I think also its special because it’s a time when you’ve got all the right ingredients to make a really wonderful British Asian film especially working with the writer of East is East, Ayub Khan.
When talking about high-pointsI always struggle with that question, when you wake up at 5 in the morning walk to your trailer, walk in, your names on the door sit there get your cup of tea every time no matter how many times you do a job, every time I’m back on a job you just sit there thinking I’m getting paid (pretty good money to act) to do this, it’s like rock n roll. The highpoint for me is just working, it’s the best feeling, and I just love acting. Whilst you’re acting you don’t even think about money, you’re doing you love while someone puts money into your bank account while you’re on set.
When did you know that you want to act? How old were you when you started acting?
From a child! After second year of drama school my first film was 10,000 BC when I was 19 years old.
I’ve been acting now for 5/6 years now. I did one year of training, a post-grad after studying at university where I did philosophy and politics. I’ve always wanted to act, it’s something I’ve always felt passionate about, I loved it through school, University it was my thing but I never imagined I could possibly be an actor, because I knew nobody in the business and had no direct role model that I could emulate as you have to if you really have the vision to go after something and you have to have this.
It was only when working in London city in investment banking, working weekends; late nights that’s the first time I couldn’t act recreationally and I thought you know what that is the thing that I just live to do. I started acting for free in my spare time. That’s when I think I realised when I was working long hours that you’ve got to what you really want to do and what you love. I think I had to take the plunge, start from ground zero. Knew I just had to slog it out, knew that’s what I had been genetically been destined to do.
Were your family quite supportive of you, because it’s quite risky changing your whole career plan investment banking to acting?
When I first told them they were just mortified, so upset, they were really worried, because I think they knew it was going to be a slog and tough but now they’re extremely supportive.
What are your future aspirations?
I want to keep working at my craft, want to get better, keep pushing myself to new levels. Doing things I don’t know, taking risks. Explore – there’s still so much more to learn.
Any future plans for upcoming movies?
I do have a movie coming up but its top secret at the moment! I’ve done filming with David Jason, had white heat out on bbc2 so just had press for that. I’m currently staying off the street corners, staying out of trouble!!
I had a film coming out June 18th starring Simon Pegg! It’s all about a writer who has a nervous breakdown; it’s a sort of psychological comedy, based on a cult hit in the 80s/90s. I’ve also just finished another film coming out later on in the year called ‘Jadu’ which is actually based and shot in Leicester –by Amit Gupta. It’s all about a girl being brought up and living in Leicester and my father in the film is actually played by Harish Patel!
How did you find filming in Bolton?
The house we did most of the acting in was actually built in London, so 5 out of 6 weeks of the movie shoot were in London, you can imagine you’re in this fake house with a staircase that looks so real – downstairs you’ve got your living room, dining room, you walk up the staircase and you think you’re going up the stairs then you look around but there’s nothing there, just ceiling.
Prior to this we went to Bolton for a week and shot all the exteriors. I had a good geography of the house and I feel like I’ve gone up the stairs. Having done it and filmed it like that I still watch the film and I go oooooh.
How long did the movie take to film?
Reece: 6 weeks. If you’re doing a gritty story like this it’s not about special effects, focus on the work. A lot is set in the house. Low budget film, used more zoomed in/zoomed out effects.
How long does a normal movie take?
Reece: 10,000 BC 6 months – left in April came back in September and lovely bones took about 4 months.
We thank both Reece and Amara for the interview. It’s released 11th May and if you liked movies like Calendar Girls, Made In Dagenham, you’ll love this one too.