Not everyone gets a National Award for the first movie they act in. Ritika Singh didn’t even know she had won until she received congratulatory messages from her friends. At first, she thought it was a prank. She didn’t believe them until she checked the internet and then started crying when she realized it was true. She still has trouble believing it.

Ritika Singh stays in Kalyan, a faraway suburb of Mumbai. Her father is the Vice President, HR at Shapoorji Pallonji. He’s a black belt in kickboxing and karate too. He teaches 200 students each year. He’s the one who trained Ritika in both disciplines. Ritika also represented her country at the Asian Games and World Karate Championships in kickboxing. Saala Khadoos came into being when R Madhavan saw one of her MMA fights. It wasn’t her best fight, she lost, her knee got injured, and she couldn’t even walk properly after. But Madhavan met her and talked about the movie with her too. She auditioned and was selected.

Ritika Singh in Saala Khadoos

She spent the next four years working on the movie and limited her participation in any tournaments since she had to stay injury free while filming the movie.

Saala Khadoos is bilingual and was shot in Tamil simultaneously as Irudhi Suttru. Ritika Singh doesn’t know Tamil but was able to memorize her dialogue within a month. All of the important scenes had to be shot twice and Ritika found it quite challenging considering it’s her first film. She did say that Madhavan was the nicest co-star, though. She said she had been prepared quite well and wasn’t nervous. She also said that everyone on the set was prepared and knew what to do. But it was only when she met Rajkumar Hirani during post production that she was most excited. She said that he made everyone feel like they are part of his team. He’s down to earth and the simplest person she’s ever met.

Ritika Singh in Saala Khadoos

She feels like acting is just the opposite of boxing. As a sportsperson, she trained to control her emotions while actors need to express while in character. When kick boxing, you can’t show weakness as opponents will use that against you. But in the movie, she was playing the role of a boxer and had to wear a helmet a lot while still being expected to emote. The most difficult thing she had to do was trying to show pain and resilience when her eye was supposed to be injured.

Ritika believes that life is unpredictable. As a kickboxer, she thought she would always be a fighter. She never imagined she would become an actor. She also said she couldn’t imagine Maddy sir chose her.

Ritika Singh in Saala Khadoos

Right now, she’s doing a Tamil movie with Vijay Sethupathy that has been directed by M Manikandan. She’s playing a modern, normal girl in that movie. It’s very different from Saala Khadoos. She finds it difficult to speak in Tamil, though.

She hasn’t signed any Hindi films yet and is waiting for the right script. She wants to experiment and maintain a good balance between commercial cinema and art. And she isn’t too worried because if acting doesn’t work out for her, she can always go back to MMA. She says that she is continuing with her kick boxing and karate training. Her dream will always be to fight for India on the world stage and make the country proud.