Back home in the UK, she is an undergraduate student who is living a normal, everyday life. In India, this 20-year-old actress is on the cusp of stardom at best and popularity at the very least. We are talking about Banita Sandhu, an Indian from South Wales who is all set to make her Bollywood debut in Shoojit Sircar’s upcoming project October. While she has worked in TV commercials and short films in the past, the Varun Dhawan-starrer would be her true blue launchpad. However, a British drama like Coronation Street -- and not Bollywood -- was what she always had her eyes set on, according to a BBC interview.
An English Literature student, Banita worked in short films even before she turned 18. Later, she worked in ads for Vodafone and Wrigleys that brought her to the attention of Sircar .
Talking about her family, Banita told BBC, “My grandparents came to Britain from the Punjab, northern India, shortly after World War Two. Both my parents were born here and my sister and I were raised in a middle-class existence in Caerleon.”
Before October, Banita worked with Shoojit on an ad for Wrigley’s. For the film, Banita took up Hindi lessons. Speaking about her experience of working on the film, she had said, “I could not have asked for a better debut than October. Having worked with him in an ad before, Shoojit Sir is par excellence. Shoojit Sir wanted raw emotions, hence there were no workshops held for us. This helped us to explore ourselves and bring out our emotions in the most natural manner.” She calls her co-star, Varun, “Justin Bieber of India”.
It was her second year of an English Literature Degree at King’s College London when she received a phone call about the offer from Bollywood. She immediately took up the offer, Banita told BBC. Working on the film also helped her learn more about the Indian culture. “As we had no relatives in India, I had no reason to learn about it or engage with this history. So I loved learning more about the culture and my family’s lives, struggles and traditions,” she added.
In the October trailer, which has already got almost 20 million views, Sandhu can be seen wheelchair-bound, ill and expressionless. The tagline reads, ‘it is not a love story but a story about love.’
October is slated to hit the theatres on April 13.