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From obscurity to Bollywood: Nauheed Cyrusi

September 11, 2007
Ever heard of someone making an entry into the entertainment industry without even trying? Meet Nauheed Cyrusi, who was ushered into advertisements, veejaying and movies without the backing of a mentor and with no filmi contacts whatsoever.

While none of her movie releases so far has made an impression at the box office, Nauheed's advertising assignments have always done well. She is still working in Bollywood, however, which only goes to show you that at the end of the day a down-to-earth attitude and a strict work ethic are as important as smashing good looks.

Tell us a little about your background...how did you get into the film industry?
I'm a Mumbai girl and grew up in Dadar. My dad works with Air India, my mom is a housewife and I've got a sister who is married and settled abroad. I had a regular, happy childhood and never even thought of a career in the movies -- in fact, I wanted to get into the airline industry and become an air hostess!

Then, at the age of 13 I accompanied my best friend from school to an advertising audition for Dhara cooking oil. I tried out too and as luck would have it, I landed the part. The production house was so pleased with the ad that they would call me back several times over the next few years to work on other assignments -- Reliance, Gilette, Quality Walls ice-cream etc. I think the one that really got me noticed, though, was the ad for Ayurvedic Concepts. I became a known name in the advertisement industry.

After having worked on so many ad assignments, I was offered a part in the music video Piya Basanti, from the Hindi album of the same name. The music video was a hit -- it was directed by Pradeep Sarkar (maker of 'Parineeta') and is one of my most memorable assignments to date.

It was only after Piya Basanti that I first began to consider a career in movies. I was in college and up until then, had rejected several worthwhile film offers. I don't regret doing so, however, because I turned them all down in favour of my education. I wanted to graduate -- after all, a career in Bollywood is a risky proposition. You need a back-up plan.

Finally, in my last year of college, I signed two movies -- Supari and Inteha.

You also did a brief stint of veejaying besides ads and movies?
That's right -- when I was in college I was hosting a requests show for Zee Music. But when I signed my first two movies, I had to cancel my veejaying contract with the channel -- the movie-makers didn't want me to be over-exposed. After that, I did a veejaying stint with MTV just last year, for a few months. The show was sponsored by Motorola and was a lot of fun to do.

See, from ads to music videos to veejaying to acting it's all in the entertainment industry. If you do quality work, get noticed and move on to different things, as long as you have the ability to handle them, you'll do fine.

What was your work-schedule like when you started out? And now? When I started out, my work schedule was absolutely manageable -- I don't recollect ever missing out on much school. The people I worked with were accomodating and I'd shoot for commercials on weekends. Of course, college was easier to bunk! When it came to mives though, everything became very hectic all of a sudden -- you have to shoot for 12 to 13 hours a day. But then the money is good, so you really can't complain -- they give you your due.

Photograph: Zahir Abbas Khan
Also read: An IIT gold medallist's success mantras

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