Last November, Xaverian Brothers High School junior, Rishu Nevatia, saw a casting call for extras in a feature film called The Holdovers. It’s a story about Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), a teacher at a New England boarding school who is very much disliked by everyone - students and grownups alike. Having no family to go home to, Hunham remains at school over Christmas break with a trouble-making 15-year-old student named Angus, and the head cook, Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). Rishu felt that the movie was a perfect fit so he submitted his acting resume and experience. That very same day he received a response saying he was being considered for the project. He waited eagerly until January, when he found out he was invited to be an extra in the film.
Rishu’s love of acting began in eighth grade on stage with the Walpole Children's Theater's production of The Wizard of Oz. He played a fighting tree, an ensemble character, and found himself instantly drawn into the camaraderie and community of the cast and crew. “I didn’t have a big part or anything,” he says, “I just liked the people and the whole environment at the theater company.” From there he started doing more shows and building his repertoire. “As I kept acting, I started getting bigger and better parts. I realized it wasn’t just about the people and the fact that it was fun, it was being able to take on a new character and explore different personalities.”
Rishu has played a number of intriguing characters, including the Father in James and the Giant Peach, an Apple Seller in Rumpelstiltskin, Jester in Bottle of Joy, Giant in Jack and the Magic Beans, Paraffin in The Wizard’s Crystal, Roy in Xaverian’s production of The Odd Couple, and most recently, Peter Quince and part of the ensemble in Something Rotten! He says he likes the idea of taking on a new character and being able to explore different personalities and mannerisms, but it isn’t all about memorizing lines. “A lot of acting takes place when you’re not speaking. When you’re not the main person you can’t just be standing there waiting for your next line. You have to be completely immersed in what the character is doing.”
It may be this very reason why, after filming his first scene for The Holdovers in March, he was chosen as one of the seven (out of 250) extras who would get to film a featured classroom scene with some of the major stars of the show. Although Walpole Children’s Theater put together two films during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rishu says it was nothing compared to a real movie set. “You have the director and cinematographer behind the camera,” he describes animatedly. “They sometimes spend 30 minutes trying to find the right shot. They figure out the angles, get the lighting just right, and get people situated where they need to be.” That’s why, he says, a 30-second film sequence can end up taking more than an hour in real-time.
When asked whether he would want to act in a movie again, there’s no hesitation before his response. “I would absolutely love to do this again; I love the idea that I’ll get to watch myself on the big screen when it comes out in theaters. It’s probably a high I will never feel again unless I’m involved in another one.”