Her latest song Har Funn Maula, where she is seen sashaying with Aamir Khan, has gone viral. The Swedish beauty is all praise for her co-star. She was one of the main judges for Mai Dubai presents Arab Asia Starz, our digital talent hunt conducted successfully recently. She couldn’t make it to Dubai for the grand-finale following Covid restrictions but her video was played at the event amidst great fanfare. Elli has learnt Indian dance forms and speaks good Hindi. Manju Ramanan catches up with the dancing star and actor who finds India her soul’s destination.
Did you spend a lot of time prepping for the song with Aamir Khan and how good a dancer is he?
I prepped for 7 days for Har Funn Maula. For the first few days I was dancing alone and the rest of the days, it was together with Aamir. I must say I was very impressed and he’s done a great job for not being a trained dancer. The thing I was most worried about turned out to be the best, and that is how good his grip is! When your dancing partner needs to hold you, or lift you up, you always worry about if he knows how to do it, and with Aamir it was just amazing! I wasn’t scared at all to fall backwards onto his hand, or when I jump up on him before the spin, because of his grip being so secure. The reason I mention this specifically is because I’ve had those experiences with trained dancers, where they’ve dropped me!
You are trained in Indian dance in Sweden and that is unusual. Did you always know you ll come to Bollywood?
I fell so in love with Bollywood movies and its dance. There was a soul connection immediately, the moment I saw it on the Swedish television for the first time! What spoke to me was, that the story and emotions were felt, not only by the dance steps, but also from the facial expressions and that amused me so much that I immediately wanted to learn the Indian dance forms. So, I did not only learn Bollywood dance, but took classes in Bharatanatyam and little bit of Kathak, where there’s lot of face expressions being taught. There was always that feeling inside of me, that kept telling me, you have to go to India and try your luck! I was always filled with so much excitement, as if I’m already in Bollywood! Every time I danced, I used to feel I’m a Bollywood actress, and so I can maybe say that yes, my soul knew I will come to Bollywood one day. It was just a matter of me physically helping myself to get on a flight and come to India!
What has been your experience working on OTT? What more do we expect?
I love the OTT platforms because it’s given more opportunities to more actors and filmmakers! My next projects I’m currently working on are movies. However due to the current Covid situation I don’t really know if they’ll be released in the theater or on an OTT platform. Nobody really knows right now about the future, isn’t it!
What attracts you about a role?
There has to be performance and challenge in it. Just being a pretty face with few dialogues does not excite me at all and I’ve said no to many such roles.
Your tryst with learning Hindi is commendable. What were the stumbling blocks?
I simply believe that it’s a must, if I want to act in Bollywood cinema! Learning a language means, learning a culture and ways of thinking. In the beginning I wasn’t able to connect as much as I do today. Because I’ve learnt the language, and so I’ve understood things and connected to them on a deeper level. I’m able to express and explain myself better, and also understand everyone around me more, that today I will also say I’m Indian in a big way! I was recently back home in Sweden and for the first time I felt like an alien over there, and that’s when I realized, my home is now India and I love it here.
A Bollywood dancer who inspires you?
Madhuri Dixit is the dancing queen who has inspired me ever since the first Bollywood movie I watched, which is Devdas, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir. What I love about Madhuri mam is that, she is graceful and her soul is seen through her eyes, when she dances. She is a performer who is truly being one with the song and that it is being felt.
What are your future film roles?
They are all I’ve ever dreamt of.
What are your Dubai memories?
A fond memory is when I went for horse riding in the desert during the sunset! That was just magical, and second, I’ll say is when I got to kiss a dolphin! Dubai is a city that allows you to experience so many amazing things, and let’s not forget to mention the tasty food too!
What has the lockdown taught you?
That living in the present moment is all that matters, and all we should do. Because the past is the past, and the future only depends on what we choose to do in the ‘now’.
Your childhood was filled with stories with since your mom is a story teller. Any Indian story you remember well?
I grew up mostly hearing about the Greek mythology, which is very similar to the Indian one, I’ve understood! When I move to India, I was given the name Krishna by the Indian family I was staying with, and I liked it, because I’ve heard many stories about Lord Krishna who I really find interesting and connect with!