Friday, January 22, 2021

Actress Ria Patel: Getting out of the box

Toying with taboo topics is this young actor’s way of creating change

Reading Time: 3 minutes

After she was accepted into the New York Film Academy though – applying on a whim at her mother’s suggestion – everything changed.

- Advertisement -

Just a few years later, Ria Patel is emerging as a key actress to look out for in the new decade.

Known for her work in independent films Nice, Fi Aur Me, Trey Pops and Two Paper Nightingales, her most recent venture Bandaid is currently doing the festival rounds. She’s also garnered attention for her role as a homosexual Gujarati girl in the first-ever Gujarati web series Varta re Varta, by award-winning director Jay Parikh.

From India to Australia to the US, Ria has had quite an acting journey. As an Indian raised in Australia, she quickly realised how unique that made her onscreen.

“Film and TV networks in the US are yet to see many Australians from a South Asian background,” she told Indian Link.

Because of this, most of the roles she’s worked on demand an American accent or an Indian accent. Of course, it helps that Ria speaks Hindi and Gujarati fluently.

In fact, she admits that being multilingual has made it easier to switch between accents.

“It’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes, during casting and auditions, directors have found me interesting because I am Australian and Indian. As a result, I’ve even landed a few commercials,” Ria explained. “I haven’t had many opportunities to work with my Australian accent yet!”

ria patel in bandaid
Ria in a still from her film “Bandaid”.

The young actress credits the rigorous program at the New York Film Academy in helping her train her acting muscles. According to her, one can always go back to school to learn more, but for an actor, the most important requirement is to be in front of the lens as much as possible.

“I like working in America because it is more inclusive, with a growing representation of artists from South Asian backgrounds,” she shared. “It’s a great time to be there because once you get your foot in, many doors can open for an artist, irrespective of their colour.”

Ria moved to the US straight after graduating from high school, so she feels that she does not have enough experience within the film industry in Australia. However, she has noticed that it’s an industry that does not accurately reflect its multicultural reality.

In fact, Ria believes Indians still tend to be depicted in stereotypes like techies, scientists, or nerds.

“The solution is to create our own stories and put them out there,” she said. “When you’re creating your own content, you have control on telling that story and you know you’re getting that perspective out there, which is very important to me. That is why I am so keen on creating my own content.”

Ria is currently back home in Melbourne visiting her family, and working on her own projects during lockdown.

READ ALSO: Ranveer Harsh: Young Indian actor gets his big break on 10Play’s How to Stay Married

ria patel in shilpi
A still from her film “Shilpi”.

Just like her own heritage and upbringing, it seems she’s keen to share unique stories that reflect all kinds of experiences. A couple of her out-of-the-box projects include the story of a young girl who loves fries, and gets married to a man who follows Jainism. As strict Jains don’t eat root vegetables like potatoes, the bride has to decide if she can give up on her cravings. It’s certainly a quirky storyline, but the simple plot also highlights how women in traditional cultures are expected to sacrifice many things when they get married.

Another upcoming short film is a story of two lesbian Indian lovers who celebrate their first Karva Chauth together. In her quest to create change, actress Ria Patel wishes to explore topics that are generally taboo in Indian milieu like menstruation, female pleasure and mental health.

The actress considers herself lucky and blessed to find interesting projects that she’s passionate about. When that doesn’t happen, she’s already got a plan – to create the content herself!

READ ALSO: Inspired by Hitchcock: Indian filmmaker releases new thriller – Redemption

- Advertisement -
Preeti Jabbal
Preeti Jabbal
Preeti is the Melbourne Coordinator of Indian Link.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

lilly singh

WATCH: Lilly Singh as Sima Taparia in “Indian Matchbreaking”

  Whether we liked it or not, most of us gave into the Sima Taparia craze during lockdown. Within days, we'd all binged on Netflix's...
karl rock

From New Zealand to New Delhi: Meet YouTube’s Karl Rock

  When Karl Rock picks up the phone (with a cheerful ‘Namaste!’ no less), his New Zealand accent is apparent. That is, until he bursts...
Buddhist Kung Fu nuns kicking hard at centuries-old taboos

India’s Buddhist Kung Fu nuns

  They are the Buddhist Kung Fu nuns of Drukpa lineage, known globally for trekking across the Himalayas to pick up trash, paddling through mountain...
jhansi strawberries

Strawberries to write a new chapter of development in Jhansi

  Jhansi which is well-known as the land of valour is all set to write a new chapter and strawberry cultivation would play a pivotal...

WATCH: Aussies try to guess Indian slang

  Many new migrants have had to quickly learn the local lingo upon arriving in Australia, picking up the ie's and the o's as part...