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Monday, January 8, 2001

Kashmir Ceasefire Monitor


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Sensation at seventeen
Namita Nivas

She's all of 17, yet, she has no doubts about her goal in life. Bhavna Pani is currently busy shooting films down South and already has one Hindi film, Tere Liye, up for release soon...

She’s shooting for the Telugu film, High-Tech Student, these days,” her father, ad-filmmaker Uday Shankar Pani, informs us. And Bhavna adds shyly that she finds it difficult to pronounce the names of the other films she’s working in. “I have a couple of good projects there and I am happy to be working in the South, where the entire industry seems so disciplined, systematic and hardworking.

Working there is like going to school where you learn all there is to know about filmmaking. I am thoroughly enjoying the experience,” says the young actress. She has also signed some Tamil and Telugu films with eminent filmmakers like Satyanarayana Rao and Subramaniam. What’s more she even has a Ramoji Rao project in her bulging kitty.

“Yet,” she says, “my ultimate goal is Hindi films.” The young actress was more inclined towards extracurricular activities since childhood. “Though I was interested in the performing arts, like any growing child, I had thought I would become a doctor or an astronaut. But when I secured 83 percent in my SSC exam, and was preparing to take up science, Abha Dharampal, the principal of Utpal Sanghvi School where I studied insisted I take up arts. I was among her favourite students, and she always took an extra interest in me. Thanks to her, today I know what I want and I am also doing my BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Mithibai College, Mumbai.”

Today the Oriya girl is a professional classical dancer in Odissi and Kathak having taken lessons since the age of six years from the likes of Pandit Birju Maharaj and Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. Actress Neelima Azim who also taught her Kathak for three years was certain that Bhavna would make it to the movies, someday. The young girl has done several stage shows all over India.

She has also trained as a Jazz ballet dancer for the last two years at Shiamak Davar’s dance institute and with Yanna Tracey from London. She’s also been trained as an aerobics instructor by the Terrence Lewis Academy of Dance and Fitness. It was thanks to Terrence that she bagged the role in Evita. “Alyque Padamsee was fun to work with and Sharon’s a sweetheart,” she chirps. Besides having done some amateur theatre, the actress also paints and sings, too.

As for bagging Tere Liye, she says she got a portfolio done for the heck of it, and, on the insistence of a friend, met Sanjay Gadhvi of Vogue Communications. Within a few days, her life changed, as she was signed to play the lead role in the film. Working in that film was a different experience altogether. “When newcomers are generally treated like babies we were treated like professionals and made to work for 28 days at a stretch. It was gruelling work, but I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world,” laughs Bhavna.

Right now, her life is full of meetings and film shoots. She is also taking acting lessons from Kishore Namit Kapoor. She’s negotiating with producers about a couple of lucrative offers. “It’s too early to talk about them. Wait till it’s all finalised,” she tell us, when we ask her about it.

Mother is Bhavna’s best friend. “She believes I need to have more space for myself. And she manages to run my day beautifully.”

When asked what acting means to her, she says, “For me acting is life, it’s living. Acting is not work for me. My life would end if I stopped dancing or singing or being active. By God’s grace, I didn’t have to struggle much and signed a film without even a proper portfolio. Now, I want to become a successful actress. And would love to work with Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan, someday. I am among their greatest fans”, she concludes.


Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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