A wedding night should be the occasion for all kinds of fun, but difficult relatives make things impossible for the happy couple in All In Good Time. We caught up with stars Reece Ritchie and Amara Karan to ask how they approached filming this complex mixture of comedy and family strife.
“It was like a recipe with lots of different ingredients,” says Amara. “There are some great funny moments. There's one scene where my character's mother says something that was really upsetting at the time but when we watched it later it was really funny.”
Both actors say that they didn't see any division between the romantic plot line and the comedy. “We never divided or polarised it like that,” says Reece. There was a lot of humour on the set – he describes Harish Patel, who plays his father, as one of the funniest people he's ever met – and it easily spilled over into what was being filmed. That didn't mean there weren't challenges. The first scene he had to film involved a traumatic argument with Harish's character - “I don't know why they always throw you in at the deep end like that” - but he was still pleased to be able to get to grips with the meaty bits of the script early on. This may also have given him a chance to prove himself as the new guy in the team, as Harish had previously performed in the play.
There are plenty of meaty scenes in the film between Reece and Harish. I ask Amara if she felt it was harder for her to make an impression with her character, given her smaller amount of screen time. But she's pretty pleased with the way it turned out. “Vina has some strong moments with her parents,” she says, “and I think that fleshed her out pretty well.”
Meeting her in person, it's striking how much her RADA-esque accent differs from that of her character. She and Reece spent a couple of weeks in Bolton “mostly just wandering around, observing and listening to people” to get to grips with the local accent, and they felt this also helped to make their characters seem rooted, to build up a sense of backstory that would make them seem real onscreen. “We discussed it a lot and that helped to create a sense of history,” Amara says. “Then we had a five week shoot. It was very intense.”
“I think you always have to bring personal feelings to a character to find the truth in them,” says Reece. “That's true even if they're quite foreign to yourself. I think there's a lot about Atul's situation that's universal. There are so many pressures on a young bloke these days. It used to be that you knew what you were doing in life. You got a job, you got a mortgage, you got married. Now all that's changed and I think the modern male is a bit lost.”
Amara says she can empathise and that this is something people can really relate to. But they differ in relation to the film's take on the British Asian experience. For Reece it's all about the universal themes. “We didn't set out to make a culturally specific film. It's about coming of age really, self assertion and family dynamics.”
“I'm excited about it because it combines that universal appeal with something about a specific community,” says Amara. “I think that's a factor in a lot of really great films, that they have that cultural specificity, like Italian American films for instance, that are enriched by that experience. I did a film called Jadoo that has that background and also talks about family relationships, although it has a different premise. I loved Bhaji On The Beach with Shaheen Khan, that really spoke to me, and of course it was written by Meera Syal who's in this film, so it was great to meet her and get to say thank you in person. That was a big part of what gave me the vision to become an actor.”
So what's next for these two?
“I'm in a film called A Fantastic Fear Of Everything which is out in June,” Amara says. “It's the directorial début of Crispian Mills, who's a great guy, and it's about a writer who has a nervous breakdown. He has a paranoid fear of laundrettes, which is where I come in, because I'm his love interest and, well, salvation really. It stars Simon Pegg in the lead.”
“I'm going to be in White Heat, which is a six part BBC drama,” says Reece. “It's spread across several decades and I play a gay guy in the Sixties.”
On the strength of All In Good Time, both the film and the series will be well worth looking out for. Reece and Amara are two young stars clearly in the ascendant.