Bollywood is fast reaching foreign shores. So while some of our actors go West, some foreign actors switch over to the Indian scene.
One such is Iran-born, Norway-settled Nigar Khan.
After taking dance lessons at 12, Nigar decided that she wanted to do a course in international business to help her father in his business. So, her next destination was Australia.
"I never imagined that I would land up in Mumbai when I was doing my studies in Australia," says Nigar. "I have started believing that anything is possible in life."
Nigar, 19, explains how she did land in Mumbai. "After I finished my studies," she says, "I did some modelling assignments on the ramp. One day one of my Indian friends asked me to take part in a modelling show in Mumbai that he was organising. I liked the idea and decided to come to Mumbai."
Life was not the same after that. Through word of mouth, Nigar's popularity increased in the film and music circles.
Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru from Universal Music approached her to appear in a music video of the remix album Chaddti Jawani. "I did not understand what a remixed album was," says Nigar, "as I had no idea of Hindi films then. I agreed because it involved dancing and I love dancing. I am a trained dancer. Whenever I am down and out, I dance because it excites and charges me."
Next, she was offered the Chhod do aanchal remix by Bombay Vikings. That, like her first video, was also a hit. As an aside, Chhod do aanchal was originally sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar for the film Paying Guest and picturised on Dev Anand and Nutan.
Though the music video became a hit, it also faced controversy on two counts: music piracy and vulgarity.
"This is a very large issue for me to discuss," says Nigar, "but I can only say that these are popular numbers. People love remixes and they are buying the music cassettes and CDs. If people don't appreciate them, our songs will be out of the market in a day. You see, it is simple economics of demand and supply. There is a demand for these songs, so we supply them. This is what I have learnt in business school in Australia and this is what is taught in every business school in the world."
On a serious note, Nigar continues, "I had no idea about the Hindi film industry. It was only after I came to Mumbai that I learnt about its greatness. There have been some classic films and songs made in yesteryears. I was told that a lot of the youngsters here do not hum these songs and have completely forgotten them. They listen more to Western songs. So I feel it is better that the younger generation listen to old Hindi songs in remix versions rather than Western songs. I believe in this theory. People may or may not agree with me."
Ask about her family and Nigar is all praise, especially for her mother who has been 'very broad-minded and helpful'.
"My mother is a gymnasium instructor in Norway," she says. "She is my inspiration and made me think independently since my childhood days.
"I was born in Iran, but my parents migrated to Norway when I was very small. Unfortunately, I never went back to Iran. My mother is mostly responsible for my upbringing. But my father has always supported me financially. In fact, I am earning pocket money through video albums and films because my major expenses are shared by him."
Nigar's mother encouraged her to learn languages. "By God's grace, I know eight languages!" she says. The languages are Persian, English, Norwegian, Hindi, Swedish, Danish, Spanish and Turkish.
"I pick up languages quickly," she explains. "I have been in India for only a year, but I have learnt to speak and understand Hindi. I hope my diction improves. Then, I can do more of acting in Hindi films."
Nigar has already appeared in Raj Kaushal's Shaadi Ka Laddoo. She has also bagged an Indo-French film, All Alone, and two others.
Shaadi Ka Laddoostarred Mandira Bedi, Sanjay Suri, Aashish Chaudhry and Divya Dutta along with Nigar. "I play an independent-minded woman," Nigar says. "Her character is similar to mine, so it was not difficult."
But she admits that the song Chal hut with animated characters was difficult because 'I didn't know where to look or what to do. I had to look at the air and imagine the animated characters. It was like acting with people whom you don't see," she explains.
Ask what her dream role in Hindi films is and Nigar says, "I don't know about dream roles. When I came here, I never thought I would stay for more than a month. I will stay as long as people want me."
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