Feb 23 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
TWO teenagers from Harrow and Pinner are starring in the first Bollywood-style film to be made entirely in Britain with a British cast and crew.
Naachle London was made by popular indie film director Neville Raschid, who directed the 2008 film Ealing Comedy, and Harrow actors Alyssa Sharma, 19, and 15-year-old Shiv Datta were very excited to be a part of it.
Shiv, who lives with his older brother Aadil and parents Madhu and Shammi in Albury Drive, Pinner, beat 20 other young hopefuls for the role of Navin, one of the main character’s sons.
He has been dancing since he was six years old and said appearing in the film has given him the confidence to pursue a career in singing, dancing and acting.
The GCSE student, who goes to school in Elstree, Herts, said: “The experience was really good. It was different, I have never done a feature film before. I auditioned and the director took a liking to me and I got the part.
“I didn’t find the acting part too difficult as it is something you can pick up from watching films on TV. I have been watching Bollywood films and picking up how to do it.
“I have always loved Bollywood films. I love that they are really theatrical, dramatic and completely different to other films.
“It’s something that I will hopefully carry on with.”
Working alongside a lot of experienced actors and film makers, Shiv said they helped to guide him through the process.
The Bollywood film fan said: “Neville was really understanding and knew exactly how he wanted everything done and gave me guidance.
“I have done educational films before, but that is about it. The only thing I found a struggle was getting there on time, but we were able to work around it.”
Naachle London, which means dance London, deals with contemporary issues facing British Asians and is centred around a talent competition looking for the next big thing in time for the London Mela.
The two stars from Harrow, who are the protagonists’ children, enter the competition and bring their single, struggling parents together.
Shiv’s character Navin enters the talent competition alongside the equally-talented Krishna, who is played by Alyssa, of Verwood Road, Harrow.
The young actress, who teaches dance in her spare time, is studying for a degree in business at Loughborough University and wants to work in the entertainment industry.
Born in Nepal, then attending a boarding school in India, Alyssa learned traditional Indian dance and can speak fluent Hindi.
She said: “Nepali is my first language and English is my second, but I picked up Hindi just by watching Bollywood films. I am pretty fluent and speaking it for the film wasn’t a problem – I do watch a lot of Bollywood films.”
The former Nower Hill student echoed her co-star’s views about the friendly atmosphere on set.
“Neville is an excellent director and he was so supportive of us all. I looked forward to going there every day, and, even though I would have to get up at 6am, I couldn’t wait to start filming.” The film is in Hindi with British subtitles and promoters hope it will appeal to UK audiences, who may relate to the issues, as well as cinema-goers in the home of Bollywood as well.
Neville Raschid shot to fame after making Ealing Comedy, which starred Alistair McGowan and Kulvinder Ghir, who is in this latest release and appeared in Bend it Like Beckham, and the director is once again updating the British Asian genre with this new fusion film.
Raj Ghatak, who was nominated for a Bafta for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical Bombay Dreams, plays a struggling single dad living in a West London council flat with his talented daughter Krishna.
He stars alongside Sofia Hayat, who displays her acting, dancing and singing talents as Rani, a successful woman with a large family to think about.
If these international stars and British crew can turn the film into a success both here and in India the producers are hoping to add some Bollywood flavour to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and have plans for another four so-called BollyBrit films.
Shiv is no stranger to talent shows in real life as he was part of the Sapnay School of Dance, which recently reached the semi-finals of the Sky TV Got to Dance competition, as reported in the Observer, before being voted out.
Alyssa, who said she receives texts from her friends every time they see the advert on TV, added: “It was brilliant, everyone got on so well.
“Shiv and I were supposed to be rivals in the film and there is quite a lot of competition and even a little hint of a romance, but we became really great friends and keep in touch.”
Both were looking forward to the red carpet premier at Cineworld in Feltham, which was due to be held yesterday (Wednesday) before the film opens in cinemas across the UK tomorrow (Friday).