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Exclusive! I am playing a skater in the international film, Dance of a Thousand Steps: Ria Nalavade

The model-actress has been learning skateboarding as part of her preparation for the role.

Prathibha Joy
Nov 12, 2021
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Ria Nalavade

Bengaluru girl Ria Nalavade has come a long way from her days auditioning at a college talent hunt (which she won at the national level eventually). A budding model, who’s been the face of two major brands – Spotify and Yardley – Ria is already two-films old in Marathi cinema and been part of a web series, having moved to Mumbai after her launch plans in Sandalwood failed to take off.

The young actress, though, has no regrets, although, she knows that a debut with Nikhil Kumaraswamy’s Seetharama Kalyana would have been a good platform. “I don’t regret it, but wish it would have happened for me. I am from Bengaluru and it would have been great if my first project was a Kannada film. I am still hopeful and would love to sink my teeth into a nice Kannada project. I think, my time in Kannada cinema is yet to come. My roots are a mix of Kannadiga and Maharashtrian, so, I would want to make a mark in both those industries. While I have already done that in Marathi cinema, with Three Legged Horse and Manmauji, and a Zee5 Hindi web show called Sunflower as well, I do want to do Kannada films too,” says Ria.

Interestingly, acting is not her only focus right now, having spent the last couple of years learning screenwriting at Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods Institute. Ria put her newfound skillset to use recently when she wrote and directed a short film that emerged winner at the India Film Project, a content festival, the flagship event of which is the 50-Hour Filmmaking Challenge. “The 5-minute short film, Kas ke Pakad, won from among 17,000-odd entries. We participated in the 50-Hour Filmmaking Challenge, where everything has to be done from scratch in the allotted time. So, they give you a theme and in the next 50 hours, you have to come up with a story, screenplay, make the film, edit it with music and submit – there are a lot of jugaad situations. The actor we had was a close friend, and the rest of the crew were all friends of friends and so on. That’s what made this challenge fun,” she says. Going by the title, one would imagine it is a Hindi short film? “Well, there’s actually no dialogue in the film, which is perhaps why we had an edge over the other competitors. It wasn’t bound to a language or region and is a universal subject,” says Ria.

But how did writing feature in her scheme of things? “I have always been interested in writing, but put it in the backburner and focused on acting instead for a while. I used to write short stories and jotting down my thoughts. Once, I spoke to a producer about a story I had in mind, which he liked and asked me to put a basic plotline on paper that he would then get a professional to develop into a script. The hired hand, though, took a long time to deliver, so, I also decided to give it a shot and the producer liked my version better. That’s when I thought I should start taking this more seriously and enrolled for a Diploma in screen writing at Whistling Woods. I had some amazing teachers there and been doing screen writing for the past year and a half. I want to find a balance between writing and acting; the only question is how I will manage to do that,” says Ria

Ria Nalavade

Ria’s social media also has a lot of videos of her skateboarding. New hobby? “The skateboarding is actually preparation for an international project, Dance of a Thousand Steps, which will take off sometime in mid-2022. This will be shot abroad, so there are lot of logistics that still need to be worked out. It’s a film that requires a lot of pre-production, which has just begun. It will be directed by an internationally-renowned name from the festival circuit, an official announcement for which will happen later,” she says.

Up next, though, the young actress will be a part of a Hindi web series for Voot, which will go on floors in January 2022. “I am contractually bound to not disclose any other details about this project, but it is about the armed forces. While I have two projects in hand, I am also looking at developing some of my own stories for the screen. I have a couple of scripts that I have written and want to direct as full-length features and are being pitched to production houses. Maybe initially I may not direct because I have no experience, and will instead get a seasoned filmmaker onboard to bring my vision to the screen. But it would have to be someone who is young and edgy and understands the pulse of the youth, because the stories I write are about young India,” she signs off.

Ria Nalavade
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