We caught up with Ritika Anand, producer & actor of the popular science-fiction series, JL50, steaming on Sony Liv. Ritika has been on a long break of almost 3 years and has returned with a bang; announcing a trilogy, Brahmaputra. Where did she disappear to after JL50? We found out from her. Interestingly, she wears many more hats apart from movies. She seems excited for ‘round 2 of my life’, as she puts it and we are equally excited to catch up with her in this interview.
Ritika, you have a lot on your plate. A trilogy of films, an upcoming book, a women’s foundation & a full time sanyasi. What motivates you in all the different directions? I had always known, ‘my motivation comes from someone other than me.’ I mean, I’ve always been someone who is inspired and motivated in opportunities and experiences that bring joy to the other. By at least one other individual who will enjoy the experience too. To me there is no fun in enjoying fruits of labor alone. But as a sanyasin, and in the truths of life, my path is alone. Even in community, a path of evolution is alone. Such are the paradoxes of life. Even today my motivation comes from someone other than me. The magic of my master’s consciousness. It is a whole universe which includes me. So the motivation is much more but there is no personal goal. It’s like I’m a vehicle only and His consciousness is driving me. Even the motivation belongs to him. He may take it away tomorrow for my evolution. I have no control over it.
From acting & producing films to sanyas. How did that happen & where do they connect?
Well, it just happened. Don’t ask me how. I always hold faith in a divine presence greater than me and that presence takes me on a journey. A journey of evolution. Let’s just say, He wanted to play my game of life and He plays my game now. Haha. At first I couldn’t really find a connect but taking a couple years off from the outside world to dive within, helped me find the connect. Actually it is all the same. The deeper we dive within, the more all definitions of who we ‘think’ we are, disappear. So whether it’s producing films or writing books or meditating in sanyas; they are just different ways of expressing the celebration of the same life. I call it all a sharing. An expressed human experience of a spiritual being. There is no need to connect or find a connect. I enjoy the experience of it all. Life is a spontaneity to me, not a balance. As Krishna expresses. It’s crazy to the balanced mind, which is crazy to me. Haha
What was your biggest achievement from JL50’s success?
The experience of success itself. We had struggled hard for 15 long years before JL50 happened. It was time to experience some rewards. The moment success happened, I realized it felt no different than other smaller successes in life. It was a feeling of gratitude. Small success and big success, both felt the same amount of gratitude. That understanding was my greatest achievement. It allowed me to accept sanyas, even if worldly success dropped as a result, to take two years off my own life, for my own inner evolution. That too, at the height of my biggest worldly success yet.
It allowed me to return with no attachment to success and no fear of failure! Just to enjoy the journey. It’s simpler and better this way!
Tell us a little bit about your upcoming Trilogy, Brahmaputra. What made you back this project?
Actually, Brahmaputra happens at a very synchronized phase of my life’s journey. The first part of the trilogy is on Raja Prittu Rai, who’s war with Bakhtiyar Khilji, is a beautiful expression of humble courage in the face of arrogant ego. I am drawn to projects that resonate with my own experience of life on various levels. Even from the perspective of divide between spiritualism vs materialism, it sits with me well on where I am in the experience of life. Prittu Rai represents the humility & courage needed for a path of freedom & Khilji represents the ego identity we hold in the world as a barrier to true freedom. Ultimately the humility of the selfless self wins over the ego identity.
I am humbled to be working with Vijendra ji, at this stage of my experience of life, as I dive deeper into expressing through the written and spoken word myself. I’m learning from him just being in the project. I’m also very excited to work with Shailender again, who I’ve always maintained is a genius at telling stories; & the creative team of JL50. Humble courage is a central theme I find in all of us as individuals too. It’s a fun project.
It’s a very big jump in your career as a producer from JL50 to Brahmaputra, especially after an extended absence. You seem very confident to pull it off. What’s the secret?
Haha. This is a good question. Actually it’s not confidence at all. It is faith. Before Neo Sanyas and the reprogramming of my inner ‘self’; It was confidence. I planned a lot. Everything was a project to me. Even relationships. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail; as they say. But now I don’t plan at all. What to plan? I don’t fear failing at all. I don’t desire success either. I don’t know the next minute. It is a mystery. So now I don’t plan. I show up and allow the work to be done as I go along. The task itself feels more alive in a sense. So I enjoy it more totally.
And yes, it is a big jump. But somehow I didn’t jump, I was carried and placed in the middle of it. So I’m learning as I move along. I’m enjoying it and I also know what needs to be done. I see it is easily getting done too. So I’m not complaining. The confidence is just the outward expression of faith. Faith essentially is confidence in that which is greater than me.
You are authoring your first book. Why is it called Being Selfish? Tell us a little about that.
Really I’m just having fun & enjoying everything that is being done through me. I’m quite the amazed witness myself, to be honest. Essentially the book, in a gist is my journey of transformation in Neo Sanyas, that has allowed me to learn an art of life. I’ve made many mistakes on the way & learnt from them too. Yet, it has required me to be selfish for my own evolution in a world full of advise and opinions. To turn knowledge I already had into wisdom of individual experience to find the way to true freedom in peace and purpose. Certain aspects of the Neo sanyas transformation, cannot be accessed without being a sanyasin. However, there are certain aspects of it that can be achieved by just a higher perspective shift on current realities of the self, which is truly ego less. Those are the aspects the book breaks down through my own understanding in the experience of sanyas transformation. However, no two experiences of life are the same and so ‘Being Selfish’ encourages individuality over personality. It’s a journey from ‘being selfish’ to ‘being selflessly selfish’. A journey of love and meditation to find true individuality amidst a world of personalities. It is a tribute to two of my greatest teachers, love and my master, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
It’s called, ‘Being Selfish – A dreamchaser’s way home.’ I’m on the final draft now.
Would you say that acting took a back seat in all of this?
Actually yes, in a way you could say that. To me, today, all of life is a play, so we are all pretty much acting our way through life. I’m just getting more and more aware of it everyday. The characters I’d like to play, don’t get offered to me at this stage and doing all that it takes to get to them, has never been my cup of tea. It’s not really me. Ironically, I’ve been a student of acting all of my education years. But all that I gotta do to make it what puts food on my table, is too complicated for me. I can see this because I chased it for 15 long years within the systems in place. So instead I focus more on the film, the story, the creation and the telling of it. Then I find my place in it with characters I would enjoy playing. The talent gets expressed, this way or that. When I was just an actor, I said I can’t produce, I am an actor. A dear friend said to me, ‘then act like a producer.’ I learnt it, acting my way through it. I guess another way of saying it would be, ‘I am already satisfied with acting.’ quite unambitious wouldn’t you say ? Haha.
I enjoy creating creative work for my self and others, simultaneously. The character itself is so much more real for me to play, when I’ve seen her whole world grow with her in it, from the scripting phase.
Would you just act in a film or series without producing it?
Of course, if I enjoy the story and my character, why not? It would be simpler in other ways.
You are also the state co-ordinator for the RSSI in Goa to share awareness on meditation & are supporting the Osho movement in some ways. Will you share a little about that too?
Yes, it’s a recent development. I’m humbled to be appointed the state coordinator for Goa on behalf of the Rajneesh Sadhna Sangh International, By Swamiji Anand Arun, who is my initiating guru and the founder of the Sangh. Essentially I’m in purpose now on my spiritual journey. I am supporting the movement with everything that I’m allowing to be done through my being. A Neo Sanyasin. Just a seeker of ultimate truth and a lover of my master’s consciousness in this very world. On this journey I’m grateful for opportunities to share the gift of love and freedom I’ve found in meditation through the messages of my master. I’m enjoying writing for swamiji Anand Arun, the founder of the Tapoban International commune and the true medium of Osho. It allows me to express also the Neo sanyas movement, which has totally transformed my experience of life. I enjoy sharing my understandings of it.
Apart from that, once a week on Sundays, my favourite day of the week; on the advise and blessings of Swamiji Anand Arun, I am offering an Osho meditation & celebration retreat at my home in Goa. To me, it’s just a shelter as I call it the ‘Rajneesh Niwas Meditation Centre.’ We plan to bring in the instructors from the Tapoban international commune for residents and tourists of Goa, to be able to experience a glimpse into a different world of freedom and love in meditation, for a moment in time. It’s a shelter, So it’s free to attend but requires pre-registration. The centre is an extension of the Osho Tapoban International commune in Nepal & a centre of the RSSI itself. Just for people to experience Bhagwan’s meditations, discourses, books and celebration of life. A time to just chill with Bhagwan and me (and others from within the community from time to time).
I’m currently in talks to include these meditation & celebration retreats into curriculum for wellness and yoga centres and academies across Goa and beyond.
All in all, supporting by just having fun and enjoying the freedom of Sanyas and the love to share in meditation. Being available to my master as he is available to me.
You are also the president of a non profit organization, the We Women Foundation. What is the mission of this foundation and how does it help the liberation of women ?
The we women foundation, is inspired by my perspective shift on women’s liberation after I looked into the truth of Bhagwan’s discourse on The New Vision for Women’s Liberation. My own personal experiences of life gave me the knowledge needed to understand what the discourse was saying. It turned into the wisdom of experience and I adopted his way for the foundation. Compared to the work being done on the rest of Osho’s teachings, his genius understanding on the women’s liberation has been overlooked. I have faith that more people can experience this kind of liberation and joy that I am experiencing just with work on the inner ‘self’.
The foundation takes an inclusive approach to both women and men alike. It does not deal with the gender embodied woman at all. It deals with the feminine energy which is present in both men and women. We all have both energies within us. The mission of the foundation is to educate people on this feminine energy within themselves, regardless of their gender and to help them make this energy alive, thriving and leading within the self first. When the feminine is accepted, loved, nurtured and empowered within; the shift is bound to happen in the outside world too. We women is not concerned with any fight or Justice for liberation at all. Neither does it discourage it. However, we women is concerned with meditation and love and creativity for the rising of the feminine within all. Expression and manifestation will find its own way outward.
I look to launch it’s first campaign at the launch of my book in the next months.
Between all of this how do you find the time to meditate?
Haha. Time finds me to do all this between all my meditations. That is a truthful confession. I live in the opposite direction. Inward! I’m just showing up wherever life calls of me outside, then I go back inside. Today I enjoy this, tomorrow it may all be taken away, so I can enjoy that. So time finds me if it needs to be done through me. I need not find the time. I only meditate and be grateful. I just hope I make sense. If not, ‘Being Selfish’ should make it simpler. Haha.