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From waiter in India to film star in China: The inspiring journey of Dev Raturi

"Lights, camera, ACTION!! And my legs were shaking," guffawed 44-year-old Dev Raturi sitting in what he calls China's first India-themed restaurant, Red Fort, which he opened in 2013 in Xi'an City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, recollecting memories of his first acting audition in 1998 in India's tinsel town Mumbai.

To date, he has showcased his acting prowess in 20 Chinese films and web series since 2015 and shared screen space with popular Chinese stars like Liu Tao, Wu Gang, Zhang Jin, Li Zhiting, and Qiao Zhenyu, among others.

The cinematic quality of his life has inspired over 15 documentaries, including those produced by CCTV, Xinhua, Mango TV and History Channel.

The beginning

In 1998, Raturi, who originally hails from a remote village in Tehri Garhwal district of the northeastern Indian state of Uttarakhand, spent more than six months in Mumbai after he ran away from his uncle's house in New Delhi to pursue a career in acting.

"It was Bruce Lee who inspired me," Raturi told CGTN Digital, adding he always wanted to come to China but lacked funds.

The reality soon struck hard. He was just one of the millions in the country who land in the "city of dreams" every year to try their luck in Bollywood.

"For months, I was just sitting behind the crowds … clapping and running. I didn't even get a chance to face the camera," he recalled.

It was a setback, but he wasn't defeated. He learned martial arts for two years as he waited tables in New Delhi restaurants. Soon he started giving martial arts classes to kids.

"I never stopped thinking about Bruce Lee and China, even when I was wiping tables and washing dishes as a waiter," said Raturi.


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