Meet Suraj Rikame, 19-year-old Pune actor who fought Chris Hemsworth in Extraction

By: Sonup Sahadevan

One of the youngest faces in Extraction (A Netflix original film) who has grabbed attention with his intense acting is Suraj Rikame. Suraj plays a Bangladeshi urchin aspiring to be a future gang lord who is not afraid to cut off his finger to please his current master. His Bangla speaking skills, the survival instinct blazing in his eyes and the fire in his belly when he swears to kill Chris Hemsworth made him stand out with conviction. We spoke to the 19 year old Pune based actor to know more about his role and experience of working with Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth. Excerpts from the interview.

How did Extraction happen?
Tess Joseph who cast me for this character had earlier chosen me for a small character in another Netflix original. One day I saw a post by Tess Joseph casting about a requirement for a hiphop ballet dancer for a film. I auditioned for it and the next day I received a call from Rahul Batra of Tess Joseph’s team.  He asked me whether I could speak or manage Bangla language. I said yes and a script was sent to me and recordings were provided. I had no experience of speaking in Bangla and this was the first time but somehow I managed it for auditions. At the time of audition, I had no idea which film I was auditioning for. After 3 rounds, I was called for the final round with the director. I saw Sam Hargrave there who came to audition me for the film. I had no idea who he was. After the audition, I was told by one of the team members that he is stunt coordinator and director for Avengers Endgame. After that I received a call from Tess maam and got to know they had selected me to play the character of Farhad in Extraction. On the first day of my shoot I got to know who all are my co actors. I had no idea that it starred Chris Hemsworth and Randeep Hooda and I would be sharing same screen as Chris. It was possibly the best thing I could ask for.
What kind of workshops did you undergo to get into the skin of the character?
I didn’t do any workshop as such while shooting for this film but yes, there was a Bangla instructor coach for us to help ourselves with the Bangla accent and Bangla language. I prepared for this role by watching movies about militant kids and movies which have maniac characters. I focused more on getting my dialect and language on point by exposing myself more to the Bangla culture, by watching their songs and videos.
Describe your first day on sets?
My first day on the sets was in Ahmedabad when we were shooting for the rooftop scene. In that scene, there were a bunch of youngsters including myself. I was very confident at that time because I knew my lines well though there were a few nervous butterflies in my stomach.
How was the experience of meeting Chris Hemsworth for the first time and shooting the action scene with him?
The first time I met him was for about five minutes at a party and I was shivering due to nervousness and also fear . I didn’t know what to say to him as I was just mesmerized looking at him. On the first day on sets with Chris Hemsworth for the fight sequence, we had a blast. I was the most nervous guy on sets because Chris Hemsworth is a great actor who I have watched and admired on screen. To get a chance to share screen space with him was like an Utopian dream come true. I was just mesmerized by his appearance. The interaction I had with Chris before the action sequence was about my family, about my education, about my previous film related work. I asked him about his family and his plans for Christmas. He helped me lot with action sequences as well and showed me how to hold the knife correctly and the right way to move it around.
How did you find Chris offscreen?
He is a thorough gentleman. He is very humble and down to earth and knows how to make the other actor feel comfortable. Chris and I were together for around 5 hours for that scene and I had the best time in the world with him. He was asking me about my family, my schooling and was trying to make me comfortable with him. As we were rehearsing for our action scene,  I mistakenly hit him on his head with the knife in my hand and I froze for a moment. But he told me to continue as it was just a normal mistake. He cheered me up and made me more and more comfortable. We also played soccer together after the shoot was done and trust me he is a kid at heart. He plays pranks on his co-stars and enjoys every bit of the moment and considers everyone his equal. I even remember being cheered by him as he said ” Go Suraj go, kill it mate”. Yes he did say it and I was very happy at that time.
Action of the film is outstanding. How was your experience of being a part of the climax of the film and working with director Sam Hargrave?
Yes I have a very small yet big part to do in the final action sequence and as you said action in this film is its USP.  I think Sam Hargrave is that director who provides actors with sufficient knowledge and information and leaves it to the actors to construct the character and the scene. He gives so much room for an actor to perform and explore and experiment which I have hardly seen anywhere else. This allows the actor to bring out his best.
What are your future projects?
I was shooting for a national eduseries but due to lockdown it has now been stopped. There are couple of other projects which will start after lockdown.