You are watching a film and you notice a new actor and wonder, “They’re good. Why haven’t I seen more of them?” That’s what happened while I was watching ‘Fulbari’ on YouTube last week. I had missed the film at theatres and finally got to watch it after eight months of its theatrical release. Definitely a good film, with some really good performances and one of them came from Ruja Raut — an up and coming actress who surely has a promising career ahead of her.
While Ruja didn’t really have a major role in the film as she plays a house-help who works for Priyanka Karki’s family in Kathmandu, but she did deliver a good performance anyway. So who’s this girl, what she has done so far and what she is up to now? Let’s find out.
Hi Ruja. How is everything?
Hi Neeraj. Life has been serving me well so far. Been enjoying new experiences, pursuing my passion and feeling really fulfilled.
Congratulations on ‘Fulbari’. That film really is striking a chord with the audience. How do you feel?
Although I’ve been part of a few music videos, TVCs and short movies; I consider ‘Fulbari’ as my debut project in mainstream platform. So to witness a project which has reserved a special place in my heart performing well back then in its hall release and now on YouTube makes me the happiest. I believe ‘Fulbari’ movie was solely made for the audience and to see them tuning in with the movie is satisfying. A job well done!
What was it like being part of the film directed by ace director Ram Babu Gurung, and working with such a stellar cast?
By the time ‘Fulbari’ was being executed, Ram Babu Gurung had already established himself as a successful director gifting the audience with half a dozen of films. As an actor, I consider myself lucky to be part of his project as I find him one of the easiest directors to work with. He has a clear vision as to how work’s done and I’ve to mention this, he has a delightful persona. On the same page, getting to work with stellar cast consisting of Bipin Karki, Dayahang Rai, Anupam Sharma, Priyanka Karki and Aruna Karki was cherry on the cake, house full of talent I would say.
While you had a supporting role in the film, it indeed is an important one. Do you remember what was your first reaction like when you got confirmation that you have bagged the role? Who was the first person you told about it?
I can never forget the day I got the call from our casting director, Pashupati Rai, telling me that I was selected as one of the cast in ‘Fulbari’. I remember hanging up the call and jumping crazily with excitement for some time, followed by patting myself on the back and whispering with a deep long breath, “It’s happening”. Even today when I recall the moment, it brings me immense joy. I was at Min’s place, invited for lunch, so luckily it was him who was the person to know I was part of the ‘Fulbari’ team.
Apart from ‘Fulbari’ on YouTube, another one of your films ‘Ritu’ is currently streaming on Kantipur Cinemas. Tell me about it.
‘Ritu’ directred by Ashish Adhikari is my first short movie, a project done with little or no screen experience shot back in 2020. It’s a compelling journey that unveils the life of a young girl, Ritu, trapped by the dark grip of drug addiction, chronicling her rise and eventual downfall.
While OTT platforms have become a huge medium around the world, our home-grown OTT platforms are still struggling to make a mark. What might be the reason and how can the gap be bridged?
Nepali OTT platforms must be convincing enough to allow us, the audiences, to consider it as a platform where we get to watch qualitative, engaging and original content rather than just another dumpsite for mediocre to typical movies that did no good in the box office. One of the biggest reasons behind our OTT platforms lagging behind is lack of quality of the content produced. As long as you’re selective, focused in producing and releasing quality content; it’s not that tough to win people’s heart and subscription.
‘Nepali Fiction’ — that’s another one of your new films that’s about to land on Kantipur Cinemas soon. What’s it about and tell me about your character?
‘Nepali Fiction’ directed by Devendra Khatri is another short movie of mine as an actor that is gearing up for its release on Kantipur Cinemas. It’s a crime comedy which revolves around an event of drug-dealing. ‘Summu’, the character I am portraying, is one of the drug dealers in the movie. Short tempered, exceptionally greedy, a hoodoo character is what you might expect from her.
What do you think is a major difference between working on a film and a music video for an actor?
I don’t find much of a difference in terms of work of an actor on a film and a music video. It’s the same process one goes through to build a character. Besides, dialogue isn’t much prevalent in music video and time involved in a music video is way shorter.
How do you generally prepare for a role?
There’s a certain process that I go through to prepare myself for a role which I intend to keep a secret.
What are you currently working on? When can we expect to see you next?
I am currently working in a music video which involves a month of traveling around Nepal. I am also developing a character for my upcoming short film which is going to be shot later this month in November. There are few projects that I’m quite excited about. Keeping myself mum until it’s officially announced. Something good is on its way is all I can say as of now.
Most of the new actors try to bag the leading role or at least a major role in a film, but you went with a supporting role in ‘Fulbari’. Do you think that might affect your chances of getting a leading role in a theatrical release film negatively?
Honestly, I never have the hunger for the lead roles; so me playing supporting character affecting my chances of getting a leading role doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me the most is the quality of projects that I am involved in, the kind of team that I am working with and the effort that I put to make my work alive. As long as these things are working, I’m content with my work whatsoever.
What would be your dream role like?
Working in any character as an actor was and is my dream. So, every role that I am portraying and shall portray in future will be my dream role.
A director you would love to work with someday.
I have a long list of directors that I would love to work with someday. If I have to name one, it would be Min Bahadur Bham.
What do you think of the current Nepali cinema scene? What are the things that you love about it and some that you aren’t really fond of.
I can sense the subtle pressure that has been put by audience in demand of good films which is growing over the time. With audiences being easily exposed to world cinema, this is high time we, makers, should focus in making good films. I am excited to see new directors and crew with film school and theatre background taking the lead. I am hoping they will serve the audience good films in near future. Makers not keeping themselves updated and still clinging with the same old boring process of making, ideas and working style pisses me off.
Do you have an idol, any actor that you look up to?
I don’t have a specific idol actor that I look up to; however I have a long list of actors that have won my heart with their performances.
Who are some of your favorite actors right now – both Nepali and international?
Some of my favorite actors right now in Nepal are Sushil Sitaula, Mahesh Tripathi, Karma, Swastima Khadka, Surakshya Pant and Menuka Pradhan. On the other end; Tilda Swinton, Lea Seydoux, Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron, Tony Leung, Timothee Chalamet, Vincent Cassel, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hanks are among my favorite international actors.
Are you a trained actor? Have you done theaters yet?
I am a student of the 17th batch of Sarwanam Theatre, from where I took three months of acting course. I have done a few street dramas and I am really looking forward to working in plays. Hopefully somebody will hire me someday.
Enough of all the work-related stuff, tell me about yourself. What kind of person is Ruja?
Ruja is a bohemian, empathetic, introvert, a true cancerian, rebel with a spiritual hint.
Who have you got in your family? Do they support you choosing to pursue an acting career?
I have my mom, dad, a younger sister and the youngest brother in my family. They have been my silent supporters throughout my journey and I am extremely grateful for that.
What was your childhood like?
My parents say that I’ve always been the silent, nicest girl in the family. Somebody who loved watching the telly, staying indoors an being mummy’s and daddy’s good girl. I remember I have always enjoyed my alone time and being extremely cautious about privacy and me-time. Nothing much has changed till the date.
Do you remember the first time when you realized that acting is something that you would love to do?
I don’t precisely remember the first time but there’s this magical pull I experience everytime I watch movies in hall and there’s this inner voice that roars, “This is where I want to be. I want to act.”
What’s one thing apart from acting that you love to do?
Lately, I’ve discovered that I enjoy writing too. Also, although I don’t read books much often but whenever I do, I enjoy it.
At last, not to make it look like a job interview or anything but here’s this question anyway, where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Five years from now, I see myself working in good movies, winning people’s hearts and hopefully make a directorial debut.
Thank you very much for your time. I hope to talk to you about a new project soon.
My pleasure. Thank you for all these questions. I got time to self-reflect. Wishing you success in all your attempts. Cheers to cinema, cheers to life!