Feryna Wazeir, although known as being a British actress, has much more to her talent. She has starred in no less than two Bollywood movies and also made an impact in the British arena by being the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) brand ambassador. The festival is soon to draw to a close and BizAsia had the unique opportunity to speak to Wazeir about her career and the perception Indian cinema gives from a British and International audience.
How important is it for Bollywood films to have an international impact?
It is very important for Bollywood films to maintain an international impact so that the industry continues to thrive. From an economic perspective, the wider an audience you reach the better your revenues are, so as well as the Indian diaspora, if Bollywood films get appreciated by other countries and cultures then that means a booming industry, which in turn means a prosperous economy.
Do you think film festivals like LIFF and Cannes have helped raise the profile of Bollywood films internationally?
Most definitely, they create an awareness and curiosity for our films. And also an accessibility to see films which one might not otherwise have an opportunity to see. What I mean is, in Britain, if you want to see an Indian film, your local cinema will only be showing the latest commercial blockbuster. So the audience impression of Indian cinema is very stereotyped as song and dance type fare. At film festivals you get to see art house indie films and that gives people an insight and a different, more relatable perspective of what Indian cinema has to offer.
Do you think Bollywood films should be competing on the same level as Hollywood films?
Personally, I don�۪t think we need to. Bollywood has already made its mark on the world stage. The uniqueness, vibrancy, colour and song and dance sequences have made Bollywood stand out – and while this formula works ��� Bollywood is also capable of producing hard hitting, gritty films. Hollywood on the other hand, works in totally different ways from Bollywood and of course the budgets are very different too, so naturally, all of that needs to be taken into consideration when comparing different industries.
As brand ambassador of LIFF, what do you hope to achieve at the festival this year?
Our aim is to create awareness of the festival and to encourage all communities to come and enjoy a brilliant selection of cutting edge, indie films. The festival has something for everyone, and this year, we have had some amazing films lined up to showcase the incredible filmmaking talent that is out there. We’ve also had some wonderful guest speakers.
Having had first-hand experience of being a part of Indian cinema, what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
I have had to learn to be adaptable and to have lots and lots of patience. When shooting a film, there is inevitably a lot of waiting around, as well as make-up touch ups and costume and set changes, so you can imagine how much time this takes. I have learned to take things in my stride and become incredibly patient in myself.
How would you describe the ever-changing audiences both in the sub-continent and also internationally?
I think Indian audiences outside India are still very nostalgic and they love to see traditional family films, while the audience in the sub-continent is increasingly turning to Western influences, particularly in the metropolitans. Films are having to be better and better technically as audiences are becoming more discerning and demanding. Directors need to deliver to the needs of the audience to secure a hit.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
Once the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) is over, I will be heading back to India to begin work with iRock films with who I have signed two films. I have been cast in two iRock films which will be fun, youth-centric and high concept edgy films, full details will be announced very soon. I will be returning to the UK in the Autumn, to begin filming for a British independent film set in the Shetland Isles, so I�۪m going to be quite busy in the next few months.
BizAsia would like to thank Wazeir for taking the time out of her busy schedule to speak with us. LIFF’s closing night takes place tomorrow evening with the screening of ‘Bombay Talkies’ which was the film released in May this year to mark 100 years of Bollywood. It will see its first British screening during the night and special guests are also expected.