Who’s Who in “Polite Society”

“Polite Society” (2023) debuted to critical acclaim and quickly gained favor among Muslim and South Asian audiences for the novelty of a brown Muslim woman leading an action film. The film is a fast-paced, entertaining story about sisterhood.

Actors Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, and Nimra Bucha all starred in "Polite Society"
Ritu Arya ("Lena"), Priya Kansara ("Ria"), Nimra Bucha ("Raheela") each played a starring role in "Polite Society." Images via @rituarya and @nimrabucha on Instagram.

“Polite Society” (2023) premiered in theaters on April 28. The film debuted to critical acclaim and quickly gained favor among Muslim and South Asian audiences for the novelty of a Brown Muslim woman leading an action film. The film is also beloved as a fast-paced, entertaining story about sisterhood. Read on to learn more about the cast of the film and their work.

Priya Kansara as Ria Khan

Priya Kansara stars as Ria Khan, a martial artist-in-training who believes she must save her older sister from her impending marriage. Kansara is a British actress of Indian descent who has previously appeared in projects such as the Netflix series “Bridgerton” (2020 - ) and “The Bastard Son and The Devil Himself" (2022). In an interview with Collider, Kansara said, “I feel like I completed an entire CV [for “Polite Society”]. I scaled buildings, did dances, and learned kung fu. I feel like I checked so many boxes, riding bikes and like, you name it.” Nida Manzoor, director and writer of the film, praised Kansara as “the next Tom Cruise” for performing all of her stunt work on her own. “Polite Society” is Kansara’s first feature film role.

Ritu Arya as Lena Khan

Ritu Arya plays Lena Khan, the bride-to-be and Ria’s sister. Arya is best known for her role as Lila Pitts in “The Umbrella Academy" (2019 - ). She also starred in the 2023 billion dollar box office hit “Barbie” as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Reporter Barbie. Arya has also had roles in major television series like “Doctor Who” (2005 - ) and Netflix’s “Feel Good" (2020 - 2021). Arya previously worked with “Polite Society” writer and director Nida Manzoor on “Doctor Who” and in a short titled “Lady Parts" (2018), which inspired the Peacock show “We Are Lady Parts” (2021 - ).

Nimra Bucha as Raheela Shah

Nimra Bucha is a prolific Pakistani actress who has appeared in several TV shows, films, and stage productions. She plays Raheela Shah, the mother of Lena Khan’s  duplicitous fiancé Salim Shah. Bucha recently starred in the Disney+ mini-series “Ms. Marvel” (2022) as the main villain Najma. Bucha spoke to Dawn about preparing for her “Polite Society” role, saying, “For a month and a half, we practiced this fight. I am completely underconfident physically, and rather ungraceful. Dance is not my thing, sport is not my thing … and on Pakistan TV the camera frame is chest up so you learn to flex your facial muscles but not much else.”

Eunice Huthart as Herself

Eunice Huthart clinches a win on "Gladiators" (1992 - 2000).

Huthart is a stuntwoman who is best known for winning series 3 of the British sports competition show “Gladiators” (1992 - 2000). In “Polite Society,” protagonist Ria is a big fan of Huthart, whose stunt work inspired Ria’s interest in martial arts. In addition to serving as Ria’s idol, Huthart appears in the film via archive footage and voiceover.  Over the course of Huthart’s career, she has stunt doubled regularly for Angelina Jolie in films like “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) and “Salt" (2010). Huthart has also worked as a stunt coordinator on superhero films like DC’s “Justice League" (2017) and Marvel’s “Eternals” (2021). 

Check out the trailer for "Polite Society," now available to rent or purchase via streaming.

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