Actress Samira Mohamed Ali: ‘Anyone can be in a film, but to be accepted by the locals – that’s what I achieved’
It’s a long way from Neath to Bangalore. But Samira Mohamed Ali already has a foothold in the Indian film-making industry. She’s the first British actor to star in a Kannada film, the Bangalore-based film industry. And while there, the 28-year-old made a real impression on the locals.
“It just went crazy out there, all the newspapers, all the TV channels, everyone. And I just had such a huge, positive response from everyone, which I’m really grateful for.
“Anyone can be put in a film, but to be accepted by the locals and the press, and that’s what I achieved.”
The model and actress, from the small town south Wales, which also gave the world Katharine Jenkins, has been modelling since childhood, playing Aladdin’s Princess Jasmine at Euro Disney, winning Miss Europe and Miss Photogenic Wales. But since then acting has taken over, with roles in a Romanian horror and a low-budget British film, Molly Crows - both due for release next year.
But the biggest step came with the role in Badshah, the Indian film due to start filming in March 2013. After winning the part and taking a trip to Bangalore and Chennai, where she particularly enjoyed the food and weather, she says she was touched by the whole place.
“I went for it, and it was one of the best things I ever did, because it was completely life-changing and that’s the path I’m looking to go down now, to be known as a credible actress, and be known for doing really great movies.”
“It was amazing. They are really fanatic about film. You are instantly an overnight celebrity once you are known to be linked to a film. Within, I would say, six hours of announcing that I was going to be in this film there were literally hundreds of people outside my hotel.
“I had to move hotels four times just because they were quite scared from a security point of view, and it’s all a little bit… it hasn’t sunk in yet, you know?”
But her 40-day filming schedule will start only when Samira has learned Kannada, the local language.
She says: “The director was in the UK about three weeks ago. He gave me my plan, which was like a book! I looked at it and thought how am I going to do this by January?”
“I have to learn the language, the basic culture, the script. Not just the movie but there’ll be a number of songs alongside it as well. All the dance routines, just everything, it’s crazy.
“At the minute I’m working about 40 to 50 hours a week just on training. It’s really intense but I’m sure it’ll be worth it in the end. They do dub my voice obviously, because they can’t have someone speaking Indian with a Welsh accent!”
Speaking of the accent, what about the town she’ll leave behind?
“It’s lovely, everyone knows everyone. It’s just one of these small towns, things like this don’t happen every day. My local paper’s been writing fabulous things about me and everyone’s just really excited.
“I’ve been having incredible feedback. I’ve had huge film offers from India and directors over in Hollywood as well. Hopefully it’s going in the right direction.
“I just think it’s really fantastic that I got on a plane not knowing how it would go or how my audition would go, and I’ve come back and my local paper’s said I’ve made history, being the first UK girl to be accepted.”Tagged in: Badshah, Bangalore, Bollywood, India, Kannada, Katherine Jenkins, Neath, wales
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter