20-year-old Welsh actor Banita Sandhu is set to make her Bollywood debut in April as director Shoojit Sircar unveils his latest film October. Sandhu features alongside established star Varun Dhawan.
October, the next release from leading film director Shoojit Sircar (Vicky Donor, Piku, Pink) stars Banita Sandhu alongside heart-throb Varun Dhawan and releases worldwide on 13th April 2018.
Shoojit Sircar and his cast gathered in Mumbai to release the very first trailer for the film on Monday March 12, leading to even more curiosity about the film’s storyline, receiving over 12 million views in the space of less than 24 hours!
Sircar who has earned a reputation across the world for insightful, intimate and extraordinary films, such as Vicky Donor, Piku and most recently Pink, that show the depth of human character, through both humour and exceptional storytelling and great cinematography, remains tight-lipped about the full storyline, but allows the trailer to tease you enough to know that it’s a film that must be seen and experienced.
Banita Sandhu, who is still in her final year at King’s College University in London, first met the legendary director whilst shooting a TV commercial in India says: “When Shoojit-sir mentioned that he’d like me to be in his next film, I knew I couldn’t say no. I hadn’t read the script, but knew that he was truly an actor’s director and that I would be in safe hands. I couldn’t have asked for a better first film, first director and first co-star in Varun, who made me feel so very welcome and comfortable throughout the making of this amazing film. It has truly been a dream come true.”
Banita’s journey to stardom really is a dream come true. Born and brought up in South Wales to 2nd generation Indian parents, she had, what most would call a fairly normal middle-class lifestyle. However, at the tender age of 11, she made a decision that certainly broke the mould for her Asian parents. She decided she wanted to be an actress… on her favourite soap – Coronation Street. Her parents supported her and she joined a local youth drama club in Cardiff, making her debut at just 11 in a BBC Documentary. Following years of training and auditions, she convinced her family that a move to London was the only way to really push her career forward.
In the summer of 2016 at just 18, in her first year of her degree in English Literature at King’s College University, Banita was invited to audition for a TV commercial for Vodafone in India. Slightly reluctant at first to be considered a model rather than an actress, she decided it was a great opportunity to spread her wings. Her parents cautiously gave her permission and she flew out to Malaysia to film the commercial. That was the start of Banita’s amazing journey.
The TV commercial received over 1 million views and caught the attention of leading film director Shoojit Sircar, who cast her in a four-minute TV commercial for Wrigley’s Doublemint. It was clear from the end result, that the camera loved her, the director loved her, and with over 40 million views, India fell in love with the stunning young beauty from Wales.
Clearly not one to let success go to her head, and having made a commitment to her parents to complete her education in the UK, she has juggled her degree whilst filming in India. She says:
“My parents have supported me all the way, but only on the condition that I also continued with my education. They wanted me to have a Plan B, but gave me their full backing, The least I could do was keep my end of the bargain. It’s been tough, but I’ve had amazing support from the teams in India and my tutors in the UK.
It was during the filming of the commercial that director Shoojit Sircar decided that she was ‘the one’ to play the lead in his forthcoming film. It was a huge gamble, putting a young British girl who didn’t speak Hindi into an incredibly demanding and emotional role, alongside the hugely talented and successful co-star Varun Dhawan.
She says: “Shoojit-sir put so much faith in me, putting me in the lead role with Varun, it was amazing, but a lot of pressure. Varun is one of the new young breed of actors that is already so popular – he has a huge fan base and is so far up the Bollywood ladder, that he could have demanded an established actress to be his leading lady. But he was lovely. It was a real pleasure to work alongside two people that I admire so much. I hope audiences enjoy watching October as much as I enjoyed making it. I’m very proud of my debut film.”
October releases on April 13 2018 in the UK.