First Story Positive: From village to entrepreneur & movie star in China, Dev Rathuri inspirational story
From oddjobs in Delhi to owning a successful restaurant business, his rags-to-riches story is also taught in the schools of China-
Every school boy who has ever watched a martial arts movie will tell you that they have imagined a blockbuster ‘kung-fu’ fight inside of their head, with them as the main hero, knocking ‘baddies’ out left and right with extravagant kicks and punches. But this village boy took that fantasy, and made it into a reality, becoming a Martial Arts Movie superstar in China. So prolific is Dev Raturi’s work that his inspiring story is taught in the school textbooks of China. Obsessed with Bruce Lee as a child, he says that he even learnt English from the martial artist’s movies. Not only this, he is also the owner of a successful restaurant Chain in China, employing nearly 100 Indian and Chinese workers. From humble beginnings to a movie star and a businessman, here is Dev Rathuri’s inspirational story:
In 1997, on a sunny afternoon, Dev Raturi hurried home from school in Uttarakhand, where he lived in a small stone room with his farmer parents and five siblings. They had no land and faced financial difficulties. Young Dev somehow managed to rent a videocassette recorder to watch Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Having studied in a Government school in Kemriya hamlet of Tehri Garhwal, he hardly understood English, yet he was thrilled to watch the movie. He started to learn ABCD only when he was in Class 6 and this movie helped him understand the language as the actor spoke English very slowly, informs the now 47-year old Dev.
But what left him fascinated was the life of the martial arts superstar. The fictionalised account of Bruce Lee’s life shaped the schoolboy into what he is today — a successful actor who has starred in at least 35 films and TV dramas, including The Trapped, My Roommate is a Detective, Strange Legend of Tang Dynasty, Wolf Pack, and Xing Chen Da Hai. Interestingly, Dev’s inspirational journey is taught in the schools of China today.
Before rolling into films, Dev moved to Delhi to support his family financially. Having studied till Class 10, he took odd jobs like selling milk, driving cars, and working as a waiter. In 1998, he went to Mumbai to live with his elder brother who worked in a production house. To survive in the metropolitan city, he took up a job as a security guard and would accompany his brother to the set. This is where he first met Puneet Issar (who played the role of Duryodhana in the epic TV series Mahabharat) who was then directing the serial Hindustani.
Then one day, Dev was asked to read a few dialogues in front of the camera. This was his first step towards becoming an actor. He recalls that he was very excited. He had passionately memorised the dialogue. But, as soon as the director said ‘Lights, Camera, and Action’ and a bright light fell on his face, his legs started trembling. That day, he realised, acting was not that easy.
Heartbroken, Dev returned to Delhi and took up a job as a waiter in a restaurant. His days passed cleaning tables and dishes. But as fate would have had it, soon after, Dev was introduced to a restaurant owner who owned a few Indian restaurants in China. He offered him a job as a waiter. He was ecstatic and immediately accepted it.
So finally, in 2005, he moved to China. But his dream was not to be a restaurant worker, but to a kung-fu master. So, he would work in the day and learn martial arts in the night. In just five years, he went from being a waiter to a supervisor and then became a general manager. His unwavering dedication and tireless efforts are evident today as he proudly owns a thriving chain comprising 13 restaurants strategically located in key districts across China.
According to him, the reason behind this progress was that he never believed in shortcuts but in consistent efforts. Today’s younger generations lack that he says. They are in a haste. He improved himself using the internet and through failed interviews. Without any hotel management degree, he went from earning Rs 15,000 to Rs 3.5 lakh per month. Instead of working eight hours, he worked 18 hours to improve his skill.
But how did Dev’s success in the restaurant industry get him his big break on TV?
By 2015, he established a picturesque restaurant in Chengdu province. And by chance, Chinese director Tang was impressed by its setting and planned to shoot a short scene in Dev’s restaurant. He offered Dev a small role of greeting the main character, reminding him of his disastrous first outing in movies. But he steeled his resolve, telling himself that now is his chance.
And that is how Dev debuted in acting with a TV series named SWAT. Today, he is one of the most successful actors in China. His journey is so well known among the Chinese that his life story has been included in school textbooks as a rags-to-riches tale of inspiration.
His success demonstrates the importance of cross-cultural communication as well. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance to make an impact in China as a foreigner and succeed. Dev did not forget his Indian roots after tasting success in China either, instead introducing Indian Culture to China as, bridging cultural differences.
He says that he is honoured that his life journey is taught to students in schools of Xi’an, China, where he started his entrepreneurship journey. His story inspires the young children to pursue their own dreams in the face of insurmountable odds. He believes that if you are passionate about something, do not let that passion die. This mantra helped him reach new heights greater than he ever could have imagined coming from a small village in Uttarakhand.