An unassuming 19-year-old Marathi student of journalism, Suraj Rikame, landed a big role in a big movie at the tender age of 17. The role is that of Dhakaite Farhad, who dreams of becoming the next kingpin like Amir Asif, and the film is Netflix’s version of a summer blockbuster, Extraction. Suraj shared with Dhaka Tribune Showtime’s Sadia Khalid his experience on set, including the time he accidentally hit Chris Hemsworth with a knife!
Is this your first film?
As a primary character, yes. But I have been featured in a Netflix special before as a supporting character. I am currently studying Journalism. I was 17 when we shot the film. Only a few days ago I turned 19.
Given that Extraction has been a smashing success, how has your life changed?
It was overnight. Class mates who never spoke to me before have suddenly started calling me. I get the same treatment from my family though. Now and then they will playfully taunt me saying, I am a big star now.
I have also started receiving very hateful messages from all across the world for my character. That’s the only downside I can think of.
How did you learn to speak Bangla for Extraction?
We all were instructed by a dialogue coach who made us try to get the accent right. More than the language itself, I think it was far difficult to nail the Bangladeshi accent. Memorizing the lines was relatively easy, convincing the audience however was another matter.
I remember watching a series of Bangla videos online so that I could learn how the dialogues were delivered with ease, and get myself acquainted with the Bangladeshi culture.
The Bangladeshi accent is much different from that of West Bangla. Our audience thought the film did not do a good job of getting the accent right. What did you think?
I understand the concern, I honestly do. There is always some scope for improvement. I tried my hardest. But I do wish there were more time for us to prepare; perhaps then, we could have gotten the accent a little less wrong.
Did you always want to be an actor?
I think my interest grew when I was in eighth grade. It was nearly two years later that I seriously started my acting pursuit. I did a lot of theatre work and was giving dance lessons to students. So I was trying to make it both as a dancer and an actor.
You had some crucial scenes with Chris Hemsworth. How was he as a co-actor? Were you a fan by any chance?
Who doesn’t like Thor? To tell you the truth, I was a little scared of him though. It was very important to me to get all the scenes right. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Looking back, most of that time I was very nervous.
Any particular memory from the sets?
While shooting the fighting sequences, I hit Chris’ head with a knife. Luckily, it was only the bottom of the knife. He continued with the scene as if nothing happened. I became frozen though. I forgot my lines and I didn’t know what to do. I seriously thought I had hurt him.
Soon after, everyone on set started yelling at me for stopping. Chris came up to me and reassured me. He patiently explained to me, working in an action movie like Extraction, a few cuts were inevitable for actors. But the show had to go on.
How was your experience working with the other big star, Randeep Hooda?
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have any scenes with him. I met him though. The first time I saw him, he was getting his beard trimmed at the makeup van. He’s like my idol. I adore him. I will always remember how generous he was with me, how comfortable he made me feel. He is just a very friendly guy.
Randeep told me to never let go of my dreams. We have kept in touch.
What are your thoughts on the sequel? Maybe we’ll see you as the next Amir Asif.
I didn’t even know that there was to be an Extraction 2. I learned when the rest of the world did as well. I have no idea what happens to my character.
Are you working on anything in particular right now?
I had a few projects lined up. Because of the lockdown, we will just have to wait and see what happens to them. Besides I am working on an educational series. It is still in production.