A Bollywood Star is born: Surrey’s Simran Sidhu to appear in major movie after winning OMNI TV show

Published: April 27, 2014

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Simran Sidhu, the winner of OMNITV's reality show Bollywood Star, pictured at her Surrey home. Mark van Manen/PNG

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Surrey’s Simran Sidhu has always dreamed of making it big in Bollywood.

Born in Dubai, raised in India and now a Surrey resident, the 25-year-old ICBC employee has been enamoured by the glamour and emotion of Hindi film since she was a kid. She looks up to Bollywood greats like Madhuri Dixit and dreams of dancing and acting alongside heart throb Shah Rukh Khan or the glamorous Deepika Padukone.

Now these lifelong dreams have come true for Sidhu, as she was announced the winner of OMNI TV’s Bollywood Star, a reality series documenting the search for Canada’s next big Hindi film actor. Sidhu’s grand prize is a role in a Bollywood film.

“This is my dream, this is it,” said Sidhu excitedly from her Surrey home. “To make it big in Bollywood.”

Although she was revealed as Canada’s next big Bollywood star in the finale of the four-part docu-series Sunday night, it’s a fate she’s known — and had to keep secret — since December.

“It’s been very hard,” Sidhu said with a laugh, adding she’s spent months avoiding friends. “I’ve had to keep it quiet for so long.”

And while she’s had time to soak it all in, “I’m still shocked,” she said.

The shock was even greater four months ago — just after she finished the show’s final challenge in Goa, India — when Bollywood director Nishikant Kamat announced Sidhu as the winner.

“I honestly didn’t expect it at all,” she said. “It was a tough competition and I had no idea who was going to win it.”

At that point, Sidhu had been in India two weeks, competing against three other finalists: Gaurav Bhatti from Brampton, Ont., Antara Das of Scarborough, Ont. and Ruchi Kumar of Richmond Hill, Ont.

“Everybody who was with me was so talented,” said Sidhu. “When they picked my name I was shocked … I didn’t realize I won until Ruchi turned around and she’s like, ‘Oh my God Simran it’s you.’”

The entire experience — from the Vancouver audition, to the Toronto, Mumbai and Goa challenges — was “incredible.” But none of it was easy.

“The first time that I made it through I thought it was pure luck,” Sidhu said as she recalled her Vancouver audition last fall.

But it was certainly more than just good fortune that got her from top 16, to top eight, to top six, to top four.

She had her work cut out for her, though, as she admits that “acting was never my forte — it was always dance that I was relying on.”

She squeaked into the top eight as the last name called and made the top six despite the show’s judge Richie Mehta telling her she “wasn’t memorable.”

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By the time she got to India, it was non-stop training.

“It was literally Bollywood boot camp because we were pushed to our limits,” said Sidhu.

Every waking moment was spent at Mumbai’s top film school Whistling Woods International, where the focus was on acting. Lessons were delivered by stars such as choreographer Shiamak Davar and casting director Mukhesh Chhabra.

“It was like acting central — you had to give everything you had,” said Sidhu. “You had to be vulnerable, you had to be angry, you had to be sad … all the emotions that you can think of that you go through in one year — you have to go through in five minutes.”

“I never thought acting was as hard as it is … it was brutal and emotionally very draining.”

“(But) if you don’t give it your all, somebody else is going to take the prize. Either you delivered or you go home.”

Her last challenge in Goa was the toughest. Given 24 hours to memorize a three-page monologue, Sidhu — always referred to as the “bubbly” one — had to portray a dark character.

“I gave it my best shot and I honestly had no idea what to expect,” she said.

And now here she is, OMNI TV’s first ever Bollywood Star.

Sidhu’s upcoming Bollywood role is “top secret” as the production team works out the details, so for the time being she’s perfecting her craft with acting classes and script readings.

“My goal right now is to improve my acting so when it does happen … nobody thinks, ‘Oh she’s just a winner, but she’s not very good,’” said Sidhu. “(I want) to prove that I’m a great actress and I am here to deliver and I’m going to give them what they’re looking for.”

“I think this show was just a catalyst to my career and my dreams.”

“The big dream is to stand next to Shah Rukh Khan and act, to stand next to Deepika Padukone,” she said. “That would be unreal.”

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