Sussex actor makes Bollywood debut in Netflix remake of Emily Blunt thriller
A Sussex actor and dancer is starring in a new Netflix exclusive Bollywood movie that has been shot in the county.
Saaj Raja, who was born and raised in Crawley, is appearing in the mystery thriller The Girl on the Train.
The film is based on the 2015 Paula Hawkins novel of the same name and is an Indian Hindi-language remake of the 2016 film starring Emily Blunt.
Raja, who has appeared as a dancer in the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent, was both surprised and delighted that filming would take place in his hometown of Crawley.
He said: “I auditioned over the summer. As the film was being shot in London the film wanted to cast some British talent in the film.
“Two of my friends are also acting in it so they’ve got two British Asian actresses in the film too.
“It’s one of the first times they’ve got a Bollywood film that uses local talent.
“I don’t know how they scouted Tilgate Park as a location, but when I saw the call sheet and saw it was Tilgate my eyes lit up.”
And the 29-year-old, whose Bollywood heroes include the legendary Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan, described filming in Crawley as a ‘great experience’.
He added: “It was fantastic. There were a lot of amused and interested dog walkers.
“It’s not every day you see a Bollywood film being shot at the same time whilst you go for your normal stroll. It was a great experience.”
Raja appears at the beginning of the film, performing a dance solo during the lavish wedding scene filmed in Tilgate.
But the Great British weather and Covid complicated matters during filming. Although principal photography began in August 2019, the film was only released on Netflix in February of this year.
He said: “That was about two days of shooting. The song would’ve been longer but it rained, typically, on that day.
“They had to finish the second half of the scene with a montage of the main actor and actress. That was the summer of 2019 and because of the pandemic it’s been a long time coming.”
Raja will appear as the lead in the upcoming British independent film A Game of Two Halves, and is set to make an appearance in Marvel’s highly-anticipated The Eternals.
The Girl on the Train is currently streaming on Netflix.