After 11-odd films where she was spotted in special appearances, songs outnumbering scenes, the talented dancer-actor Nora Fatehi has just had her first release opposite actor Sanjay Suri in debut director Samir Soni's film My Birthday Song.
"Initially, I didn't know what I was auditioning for. I did my scenes in four or five different ways as was asked to, and that was it. It was much later that I figured out it was a film opposite Sanjay Suri and that's when I began to hope and pray that I would get the role," says the 25-year-old.
An exciting offer
Nora didn't have to wait too long for her prayers to be answered. She was in within the next couple of days. "Most people want to work for the right script. I wanted to work with the right people. Samir (Soni) is a great person to work with and so is Sanjay. They encouraged me all the time though it was my first big film."
Nora plays the role of Sandy in My Birthday Song, a psychological thriller. Sandy is a smart, independent and confident woman who has a bit of mystery surrounding her. Born in Delhi, Sandy has to leave India due to some circumstances. She returns on the 30th birthday of Sanjay Suri who feels there is some connection between the two of them but can't really place it. "My character is the catalyst for everything that happens in the film," says Nora.
Playing Sandy was not very difficult, says the lady. "Except that we were shooting in Delhi in December, often outdoors, and very late at night!" she says with a chill in her voice. "It was awful and I would be trembling most of the time just before we would go into the shot. I have never felt so cold," says the girl who is of Indo-Canadian origin. Shooting for the film was wrapped up within two months.
Her experience with her co-actor and director of My Birthday Song has helped her, reiterates Nora. "I am someone who is still finding her feet in the industry. It isn't easy to get in here and keep getting work. Good work," she emphasises. "It is very important to do justice to the work that comes along and if you have the right sort of people around you, their guidance goes a long way. Sanjay and Samir both have a certain way of delivering dialogues and enacting a scene. Sanjay downplays a lot of things. It has been a learning experience for me," adds Nora.
She insists that everyone on the set would keep encouraging her to the point that she began to protest. "Eventually, I had to tell everyone that they didn't have to be so nice to me," she laughs.
Nora has won over fans largely because of her dancing skills. She has performed in Telugu films Kick 2 and in Baahubali: The Beginning. She has also been a part of Indian television with Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and Bigg Boss Season 9 (as a wildcard entry). "I hope to build a band called Nora in some years - doing songs, performing on stage, acting in films, creating digital content, be on judge panels in reality shows, doing television work - I want to be there," she says, enthusiastically.
Meanwhile, digital content is working wonders for her. She has been part of a couple of short films made for the web and her dance videos are gaining popularity.
Is Bollywood welcoming towards 'outsiders'? Would she say the industry and its denizens have warmed up to her? "It's difficult to answer that question, you know. I have no friends or family in the industry, but I have been getting work. Yet, I am pretty much on my own and have to work hard to get my foot in. So, the answer to your question is actually a 'yes' and a 'no'!"