"I hadn't learned another language before"
A Yorkshire man has landed a lead role in a Bollywood film, becoming the first British white man to do so.
Richard Lovatt, from Huddersfield, is set to fly to Mumbai to shoot the film, which currently remains untitled.
The 32-year-old has taken over 50 Hindi lessons as he will be speaking Hindi throughout the film, which is set to be released at the end of 2023.
Richard said: “As a white bloke from Huddersfield, I never thought I would be playing such a big role in a Bollywood film.
“I’m so excited. It’s going to be incredible and I’m more than ready.
“It is a tough language to learn, really hard. I hadn’t learned another language before, I have only ever been able to speak the deep Yorkshire dialect.
“But lots of my friends in India speak Hindi, so I was around the language constantly, picking it up.”
Richard first stumbled across the Bollywood scene after travelling to India to train actors following his personal training career.
He has worked with the likes of Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor.
Richard studied film and TV at Newcastle University and soon began auditioning for smaller roles. This included a small role in 2017’s Karwaan, which starred the late Irrfan Khan.
He eventually got a call from a casting agency about the role.
Richard explained: “I did about two weeks’ preparation for it because it was fairly long and I had to dance too.
“I auditioned and they offered me the part on the spot. It is unheard of for a foreign, non-native Hindi speaker to get this type of role.
“I then had to do loads of training on accent stuff and fighting. I did four days of intensive fight training; it was really hard. It was real Bruce Lee stuff, proper Kung Fu.”
The project was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic but is now set to go ahead.
On his arrival in India, Richard will have his beard shaved off and his hair dyed a darker colour, with filming continuing into April.
He added said: “I’ve just always known something amazing was coming my way.
“All I needed was patience and hard work. When I was a kid, I wanted to do drama but I thought I would get bullied if I did.
“I really wanted to be on TV but I ended up going to uni and studying sports management, then dropped out of that and did TV and film and dropped out of that too!
“Now I am going to be starring in a major Bollywood role. I would never have imagined that would happen.”
Although there are white people in Bollywood films, they usually play small roles.
Richard said: “White people are in lots of Bollywood movies but always play small roles.
“This film will be purely in Hindi and I will be throughout the film – that’s a really big thing.”
“As weird as it may sound it doesn’t make me excited because for many years I have known it was coming and I just had to wait.
“I actually got this role in 2019 then Covid hit and the movie got pushed back, it then got cancelled so I came back to the UK at the end of 2021.
“The film was then going to go ahead, but I was already back in the UK, they auditioned other white guys and showed them my audition to copy.
“They couldn’t get anyone who was right so called me back in 2022.”