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British Asian actors make a beeline for India
By Prasun Sonwalkar, IANS
The popularity of Bollywood in Britain has seen several British Asian actors travel to India to act in Indian films and return with gushing accounts about working with Indian actors and technicians.
Two such examples are Newscastle-born Shivani Ghai, who plays Aishwarya Rai's best friend in Gurinder Chaddha's "Bride and Prejudice", and Accrington-based Nadeem Ahmed, who recently shot along with Om Puri and model Sophie Dahl for "The King of Bollywood".
Shivani said: "It has been a fantastic experience! We shot the film in Mumbai for two weeks and in London for another two.
"I was a little nervous first but once I got on the set I got on really well with everyone. It was great to be working alongside people like Gurinder and Aishwarya."
Shivani is a graduate in film and television studies from Derby University and has landed roles in TV programmes such as "The Bill, Doctor and Spooks" as well as stage productions. She feels things were definitely looking up for Asian actors, particularly on TV.
She said: "I can't remember many Asian characters on TV when I was a teenager, except a couple on EastEnders.
"But things are different now and the past few years have been very good for many people.
"Acting is something I've always wanted to do. I did drama at school but not much other acting until (I reached) university when I became interested in theatre."
She hopes "Bride and Prejudice" will open more doors for her in the acting world. The film will be released nationwide Oct 8.
Nadeem Ahmed said: "I've always been intrigued by Bollywood films and when the opportunity came up it was something I wanted to do.
"It was amazing. I am no dancer but I had to do some Bollywood dancing and I gave it my all."
In the movie directed by Piyush Jha, Om Puri plays a fading Bollywood star. Nadeem plays a spoilt son of a rich father who buys him a part in a Bollywood film.
He said: "The filming took two weeks and was really intense. There were hundreds of people on the set.
"We had people that have trained some of the best Bollywood actors and it was brilliant to work alongside established actors like Om Puri and Yusuf Sultan who plays my father."
Nadeem, who has just returned from a modelling assignment in Dubai, said his first taste of Bollywood has left him keen to make more films.
He said: "Indian films are really artistic and like a kaleidoscope. I didn't appreciate how talented these people are until I did this."