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From South Woodford to Bollywood – Kavi Shastri’s making it big

PUBLISHED: 14:23 11 November 2010

Kavi Shastri

Kavi Shastri

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A young actor from South Woodford talks about finding success as an actor in the Bollywood capital of Mumbai

"I have an Indian accent now, which my friends back home kindly point out"

Kavi Shastri

KAVI Shastri is a 24-year-old South Woodford actor making it big in the Bollywood capital of Mumbai, India.

He has gone down a storm with notable appearances in films and landed his breakthrough lead performance as Rohan on YRF Television’s Rishta.com.

After growing up in Leytonstone, the family moved to South Woodford when he was 18. They still live there and he pops back now and again to visit.

Here he speaks to Supriya Davda.

Q: Have you always wanted to become an actor?

A: Well I sort of fell into it. I’m not great at sports and I always used to groove to Michael Jackson as a kid so it’s always been in my blood. My parents saw it at a young age and helped me utilise what they saw as a strength and sent me to train as a performer. So all credit for what I do today, goes to them both.

Q: What is your inspiration?

A: I believe my parents and my brother Ravi have been my strength, through all my struggles, so they definately inspire me. Also, I think as you go on in life, you find new things that inspire you every day.

Q: You have set a great example for British Asians who aspire to be an actor or work within the Hindi film/television industry, and it takes some courage to go to Mumbai and pursue the career of an actor. What advice would you give to those individuals who desire to do the same?

A: If a guy who has grown up in London, who couldn’t speak Hindi before he arrived in Mumbai, could do something...why can’t you? Just don’t give up, your hard work will be your courage. I’m a guy born and raised in east London...if I can live the dream, there’s no reason why you can’t.

Q: What kind of difficulties did you have to go through in order for you to be where you are now?

A: There have been restless nights, umpteen sleepless nights, days when you’re upset and times where you feel you just want to pack your bags and go home. Mumbai can be a ruthless city and sometimes you stand outside people’s offices for days with your pictures and walk in the heat to make an audition. But I don’t see these as difficulties, more a lesson and if you put your heart into something...then the world is your oyster. These moments make up the bigger picture.

Q: How has Mumbai changed you?

A: Well I have an accent now, which my friends back home kindly point out. You can’t help it, if you don’t have a slight one no one understands you!!! On a serious note, I think I’ve grown up.

Q: In India your character Rohan Mehra (Rishta.com) has received a lot adulation. Teenage fans are labelling you as “hot” and “cute”, how does that make you feel?

A: Really shy, actually. I’ve never really had that. Rohan has been the guy I always wanted to be.

Q: How has fame changed you?

A: I don’t think it has. I’ve not really felt it as yet, but I’m just going to keep my head down and work hard.

Q: Any particular role you would love to do?

A: I would love to play Bond, the Indian Bond. There is only one problem – if it was shot here in Mumbai, I would have to ditch my Aston Martin and take a local train, the traffic here is ridiculous.

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