Imagine you are trekking uphill in the blazing heat; you feel tired, and can’t continue any further. Just when you are about to quit, you spot a tree big enough to shield you from the sun, and a cold water stream nearby to quench your thirst. Something similar happened in the streaming space, when Bandish Bandits released in August 2020. The show had lots of elements working in its favour, including the cast, headed by Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni, Sheeba Chaddha, and the melodious music Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Amidst all these seasoned artistes, a debutant — Ritwik Bhowmik — caught everyone’s attention.

The most striking thing about Bhowmik is his bright and friendly ear-to-ear grin. He reminds me of Shaan’s hit single, Love-Ology. In that music video, Shaan makes the girls swoon by flashing his bright smile. Though Bhowmik ascended to fame with Bandish Bandits, he wasn’t a debutant in the web space. He had played mostly romantic roles in several YouTube shorts.

“I still don’t understand how it all happened. I’ve never asked the makers what compelled them to cast me. Strangely, I’ve mostly signed up for romantic stories. I’m not complaining, because I won’t mind playing the romantic hero for the next 50 years of my life. I love the idea of love,” he expresses.

Bhowmik asserts that he’s been dreaming of becoming an actor since he was four years old, and had just watched Baazigar. When Shah Rukh Khan’s character, Ajay, died at the end, Bhowmik cried uncontrollably. His mother had to explain that it is just a film and Shah Rukh Khan is alive and well, and he’s just pretending to die in the movie. At this point, Bhowmik understood how magical the world of films is. He started participating in school plays at the age of nine, and eventually became a member of the school’s dramatic society. He acquired a Diploma in Acting from Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares.

Bhowmik distinctly remembers the first audition he ever gave. He reminisces, “My friend, Aisha Ahmed, dragged me to an audition for the first time. I was very happy working as an assistant director in plays, shorts, and working on my own movies. Aisha lectured me on how I could either sit in one place and hope for things to happen, or take charge and make things happen for myself. Within a few days of my audition, I was selected.”

Bhowmik faced his share of rejections and missed out on opportunities, but he did not let it affect him. He admits, “I have a bit of a superiority complex (laughs) because I feel it is their loss, not mine, and I move on. Everything happens for a reason, and ultimately it will lead up to something good. You just need to do your part by putting in your best effort possible because no effort ever goes to waste. All this helps me to stay focused, inspired, and mentally at peace.”

Currently, Bhowmik has his hands full with various projects. He completed a comedy show, and began working on a crime thriller. Bandish Bandits’ success allowed him to experiment. He clarifies, “I’m so happy that I’m not typecast, and there’s still room for me to experiment with my roles. Yes, sometimes it’s confusing to choose the right projects. You can’t design your life like a building; it doesn’t work that way. You just have to live it, and it will design itself. I choose a project only if it feels like the right thing to do at that moment.”

Bhowmik hopes to capture audiences’ hearts and all kinds of screens, be it phones, laptops, TV, or the silver screen, and entertain them for as long as possible.