ZEE5 announced and impressive line-up of TV shows and series set to release in January 2020. Two of the biggest names on this list are ‘State of Seige: 26/11‘ based on the book Black Tornado by Sundeep Unnithan and the other big ticket show is ‘Never Kiss Your Boyfriend‘ based on a book of the same name by Sumrit Shahi. This film stars Nakuul Mehta and Anya Singh. Rituraj Singh plays the role of Naakul Mehta’s father in the web series. We sit down for a chat with him at the ZEE5 January Line-up Announcement to talks to him about his new show and his long-time association with ZEE5.
Watch a teaser for Never Kiss Your Best Friend streaming on ZEE5.
1. What made you say yes to the show ‘Never Kiss Your Best Friend’?
I do quite a few father roles and I get to work with fine young actors like Nakuul Mehta. Even in ad films, after I’ve grown this bearded-look, I get more dad roles, otherwise I was not offered any ads. I had done a cameo in ‘Abhay‘ and I really liked the working process. I am also very close with Zee. They made me who I am today. When I came to Bombay nobody knew who I was. Zee really put me on the map.
I also liked the character of the father because he has a very strange relationship with his son (Nakuul). It’s not a regular dad role but it is realistic. I got to work with some very good friends of mine Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, Vivek Mushran and Niki Aneja Walia.
2. Did you read the novel before working on the show?
I didn’t read the novel. I was given an offer to read the novel before shooting but I didn’t take it. I never read any of the work that I have done which is already in print. Then my mind becomes biased, because of course there will be some changes to the original story. I won’t be able to accept those changes if I already have another story taped in my head. Even if I do an audition the script is running in my head. I haven’t read the book but I will now after the shoot is done.
3. Are you a father in real life?
I have a daughter, Jahaan, who lives in Manhattan and works with the New York Times and she’s 24. I also have a son who is 20-years-old and he’s studying to be a business entrepreneur.
4. Were there scenes in the series that you related to?
I have done roles of fathers but all the roles were different. For the role in Never Kiss Your Best Friend, I had a big advantage being a father. There were so many scenes I could relate to. The fact that there’s this denial thing of like “I don’t love her, she’s just a best friend,” I’ve seen that happen with my daughter; where she will say that she is not in love but I can clearly see that she likes the person.
5. A major part of the show was was shot in London. Can you tell us more about that experience?
The shoot was a great experience. It was very well organised and the director knew the story he wanted to tell. The most amazing thing was that our entire Director of Photography team was from Estonia. You can never imagine that. I’ll tell you the only thing I had problem adjusting to was the cold. 26 years in Mumbai, I forgot what cold is. I’ve lived in America and then Delhi where it gets really cold. After coming here I forgot what cold is like.
6. Could you tell us one memory from the show that stood out for you?
There is one memory but I am not sure if I can say it. It was my first day on set and it was snowing. But we could not wear warm clothes because we were not showing snow in the scene. So I was shivering and I asked the director to give me brandy and warm water. That’s how I did the whole scene.
Watch him talk about the show and his long term relationship with Zee here.
7. You began your journey on TV with Zee TV in 1993 with Banegi Apni Baat, and now you are part of the web series too. How has your experience been working with ZEE5?
In the beginning there was only Zee, then the rest came. I also worked on a show for Music Asia Live. Zee is always close to my heart. I have real respect for Subash Ji. He has a great mind to see the potential for media in 1991-92.
8. How does it feel stepping into the digital space after moving out of TV?
It feels very good and in fact this opportunity is good for not just me but actors of all ages and languages. It has mad me much more comfortable, not to say that I was uncomfortable in television. I have been acting since I was 12. I did theatre till I was 17 and when I moved to Bombay I loved working in TV. But now I’ve worked in 8 or 9 web series. This is the new baby now.
Watch him play the role of a quirky father in Never Kiss Your Best Friend which releases on 20th January. Watch the digital premier of Saand Ki Aankh on ZEE5 now.