As we get closer to the release date of BLACK SUMMER, I managed to catch up with the lead actor of the film RITESH CHAMS. The word ‘multi-talented’ does not quite sum up Ritesh. Whilst we have heard and met people possessing triple threat qualities in sports and arts, Chams possesses a unique set of skills from flying, being an entrepreneur owning a Hair, Fashion and Beauty establishment to having a few films and theatre experience firmly under his belt. Based in Reading in the UK, actor Chams has caught the acting bug from early on but it has been the past few years which has brought forth opportunities from Black Summer, Happy Days, Blind Rocks to Samaya Drishya.
LEX: I did my background research and I came to learn that you’re also a pilot. I love the idea of flying a plane so before we jump onto films, what is flying like?
RITESH: Basically I started flying in the UK and finished my course in Florida, USA. I have flown various aircrafts during my time learning and flying but I really enjoy flying glider light aircrafts. My first flying experience was on a glider and it was in Oxford, not too far away. It was scary, really challenging as a glider does not have an engine but that is also what made it so thrilling and my favourite. The best part of being a pilot is that you can “Fly in the Sky like a bird and enjoy the freedom in the air”. Being able to look down and see the Earth and its scenery during a low-flight is a priceless moment.
LEX: Being a pilot, running a business in the UK to acting – when did your interest in the creative arts being?
RITESH: Being a pilot is an option for me at the moment. I am involved in my own Hair, Fashion and Beauty establishment which keeps me occupied and in terms of acting, I had experience as a child artist in the past. I was involved in a drama production around the age of ten.
LEX: BLACK SUMMER is nearly here and it is being promoted heavily in the UK right now but before that, how was your journey in films and music videos?
RITESH: In the UK, I’ve been performing in stage dance shows and even on the high streets… eventually I also did a few music videos where I modelled. One of the music videos also features my flying so that was fun. With theatre, I began with Badhyata and later I had the opportunity to share the stage with legendary comedian Santosh Panta and Dhurmus (Sitaram Kattel) in ‘Pa Pi Pa’ show in the UK back in 2014. Last year, I also performed in Samaya Drishya ‘Scenario of Time’. At the same time I did various short-films Missuse and Lesson. U-TURN was my debut and last film.
LEX: Wow, that’s quite a collection of experiences on top of being a business figure and a pilot! Talking about BLACK SUMMER, it is a thriller love story and you share the screen with Reema Bishwokarma, how was it working alongside her?
RITESH: Reema is amazing and a multi-talented person, I am a big fan of her and I have learned a lot from her. She was always very keen in helping others on and off scenes. It’s great to see her hosting NEPAL IDOL right now, that just shows how talented she is. She always influenced me with her personality and her varied skills. Sharing the screen with her was fun and a great opportunity to see as well as learn from her art and performance. She supported me in the beginning by helping me feel more confident in front of the camera. I would love to work again with her in the future.
LEX: Aside from Reema, the team consists of many Nepalese from the UK, how was the team and the filming experience of Black Summer?
RITESH: The set schedule was definitely challenging as we had to work till the early morning, a lot of hard work and a strong mental attitude was required by the team and the team did very well. A huge respect to all of them, showing such desire as well as making the experience immensely fun no matter what situation we were facing.
The filming experience of Black Summer was phenomenal, it tested what team work was. Even with the few experience I’ve had, I realised that they were very little as Black Summer was a different scale. I had never actually been in-front such huge camera with so much technology involved. I felt very nervous on our first shoot, I was numb. This was a big learning curve and it was a beautiful one.
LEX: In BLACK SUMMER, what type of character do you play?
RITESH: I am called Ritesh in the movie. Ritesh is a fun loving
person who represents the Nepalese diaspora in the UK. My character goes through a journey of high and low and a lot of my scenes involved a lot of action which was pretty hard to film. Nonetheless, I believe all the hard work has paid off.
LEX: Okay, so you’re also in HAPPY DAYS and BLIND ROCKS! That is quite a range of movies in such a short-time. What can you tell us about those two projects?
RITESH: I learned so much from Dayahag Rai and Priyanka Karki, from HAPPY DAYS, while we were filming for two months in the UK. It gave me a real opportunity to leverage their knowledge and experience on the set and off the set. I am so thankful to director Milan Chams for the opportunity because it was a dream come true to me to be able to share the screen with Daya dai and
Priyanka. My role in Happy Days again sees me as a character who has lived in the UK for long, basically I have to guide Daya dai and I am the connection in the story in-terms of getting his dream within the film.
BLIND ROCKS gave me a real taste of filming in Nepal. It involved such a huge team on ground during the filming and the shooting environment was great and co-operative within different departments. In the film I play a character who’s very important to Benisha Hamal, who is playing the role of Shristi KC.
LEX: It’s incredible to learn that you’ve been able to have such different film experiences within such a short time, that too from the UK! You’re really juggling it all. What would be a dream role for you?
RITESH: That’s a real eye opener of a question for me. To be honest I have so many dream roles, I’ll tell you
what, I love action and I would prefer to play the character that is able to educate and empower viewers through the film.
LEX: Well! At this rate, I am sure it’s only a matter of time before you get to fulfil your dream roles. Lastly, do you have anything to add before I leave you. Huge thank you for your time and I cannot wait to watch the film with the Black Summer team on June 24!
RITESH: I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to BLACK SUMMER director LB Subba Sir for believing in me for the role and the opportunity, all the producers, everyone who was involved in BLACK SUMMER and my co-artists, thank you so much for making this a truly memorable and educational experience.