Home Feature Rituraj Singh’s passing away is great loss to Film Fraternity

Rituraj Singh’s passing away is great loss to Film Fraternity

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By Alok Ulfat

The news of Rituraj Singh passing away came to me as a shock. We went to the Hindu Cremation Centre at Oshiwara to attend his antim sanskar (the last rites). Many friends, including actors, directors, writers, artists gathered to say the last farewell. His son Abhiraj seemed contemplative while his wife Charu and daughter Jahan were composed and met people compassionately. A large number of members went up to take the last glimpse of Rituraj and to pay homage to him. Among Vedic Chants both his children fulfilled the rituals of antim sanskar.

Rituraj lived a very vibrant life. Between tears, heartfelt smiles, incense and mantras we could see the film fraternity was truly saddened by his demise. He will be missed.  His wife Charu Singh and children showed incredible strength and hope.

I would like to share some memories of the days I spent with the great masters, including Rituraj. I met Ritu in Delhi when I was working at The National School of Drama with Barry John. We acted in two plays together and I can never forget how gifted he was.

Later on, Ravi Baswani anchored Sidharth Basu’s ‘Manch Masala’ in Delhi, where I was one of the actors. He appreciated my performance and later played a pivotal role in bringing me to Mumbai and, through his friend Mayank Trivedi, I landed a lead role in the Mahanagar serial.

During those days, many of us regularly gathered at Ravi Baswani’s home to enjoy his generosity, along with his cousin also called Ravi, Irrfan Khan, Sustapa, Rituraj, Charu, Vijay Acharya and Mayank Trivedi. They inspired me and always met me warmly, listening to my stories with compassion. I was also receptive to everything they shared with me.

In the mid-90’s I was heavily involved in conducting workshops with college students and children from underprivileged backgrounds. On one occasion, during filming of the serial Darr, in which KK Menon and Irrfan Khan played main roles, I also had a part in the series. It was then that Irrfan and Rituraj encouraged me to act more, but I expressed my desire to teach acting and develop an original approach based on my experiences with aspiring students. Irrfan simply said, “Toh theek hai, lag ke karo”, which meant ‘all right do it committedly’. And whenever I meant I met Rituraj, he would encourage me in my endeavours.

Since those days, I never looked back and pursued my passion with enthusiasm. My life took many turns, navigating through rough seas, but I persevered. Later, it was due to Ravi ji and Naseeruddin Shah Sahib that I joined the Film and Television Institute of India, where I designed the selection process for new students.

I reunited with Rituraj after many years on my show with Zee TV, where I directed over 130 acts. Rituraj also performed with participants of India’s Best Dramebaaz, showcasing his terrific ability to connect with children.

Today, as I reflect, I cherish countless memories of Ravi Baswani, Irrfan Khan, and Rituraj Singh. After the crossing of the threshold by Ravi Baswani and Irrfan Khan, Rituraj was still there. Now Rituraj’s passing away is a great loss to us and the film fraternity. His stories and great sense of humour will remain fresh in my thoughts. Good friends never die; they simply move on as if they have gone for a walk above the clouds.

Rituraj’s life inspired so many in so many different ways. His contributions are a legacy to cherish and learn from. It was mesmerising to see him perform on stage, screen, in many films, TV. He was a master of storytelling.

Pawan Malhotra, Barry John, Leena Yadav and Aseem Bajaj, Bhagyashree and Himalaya, Nivedita Bhattacharya Menon, Jasweer Kaur, Suraj Rao, Diya and Tony Singh, BP Singh, Shernaz Patel, Lillete Dubey, Vijay Acharya, Achint Kaur, Nakul Mehat, Bahvsheel Sahni, Gunjan Sethi, Ana Ilmi and many more friends were present at the Oshiwara Last Rites Centre.