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From Harrow to Bollywood

Harrow actress Eve-Yasmine Saoud-Easton told David Hennessy about making her Bollywood debut, that her Irish grandfather inspired her and how a medical condition stopped her budding music career just when it was starting to take off.

An actress from Harrow with Irish blood is having success with her acting career, but not in British cinema or TV.

Eve-Yasmine Saoud Easton has secured numerous impressive roles in both Bollywood and Punjabi cinema.

Eve-Yasmine told The Irish World: “When a lot of people started seeing me appearing in Bollywood films, their first reaction was, ‘That’s random, how did this happen?’

“But a lot of Bollywood films are shot here.

“There’s a huge Punjabi community in Hayes.”

Eve-Yasmine, who has Spanish and Moroccan heritage in addition to family in Derry and Dublin, has long been familiar with the Bollywood tradition.

“Growing up, I lived in Harrow. We have a really large Indian community here and one of my friend wanted to try out a new dance class and I had just stopped my old dance school.

“I was looking for something new and she took me.

“I looked in the door, and I was like, ‘Rosie, this is Bollywood dancing. I don’t know how to do it’.

“And she’s like, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be fine’.

“And we both did this trial class.

“She doesn’t join, I do.

“And it was the beginning of a really beautiful journey.

“I was the only non-Indian in this whole academy.

“It was great. I really love their storytelling style.

“And obviously, I’m hearing songs in other languages, and I have no idea what’s going on.

“So I’d asked my friends or the teacher, ‘What does this mean? What are we dancing to here? What kind of expressions and emotions do we need to show?’”

And this ability with foreign languages would stand her in good stead. In 2022, Eve-Yasmine appeared as Stella in the Punjabi movie Main Viyah Nahi Karona Tere Naal alongside Gurnam Bhullar impressing viewers with her Punjabi dialogue – which she learnt in 2 days! The film achieved a worldwide cinema release across the UK, USA, Canada, India and Australia.

She then worked on a number of South Asian films, in addition to dancing with Diljit Dosanjh in Honsla Rakh and appearing as Lead Female for artists’ music videos such as Vicky, Himmat Sandhu and Navaan Sandhu.

Eve- Yasmine then made her Bollywood debut in Mister Mummy alongside Riteish Deshmukh, Mahesh Manjrekar and Genelia D’Souza.

Called in at the last minute to take over from another actress, Eve-Yasmine would have scenes with icons of Bollywood cinema in the film the was released late last year.

“I’m really grateful to be part of that project.

“It was my first big Bollywood movie and I was working with this couple who are Bollywood legends.”

Riteish Deshmukh is an award-winning actor and comedian. His wife Genelia D’Souza, who is also very well known, was also part of the film.

“He does a lot of comedy and he’s a really funny guy, and his wife Genelia is so lovely as well.

“And then Mahesh who I also have a scene with- Again, he’s a Bollywood icon.

“It was very exciting to be on set with them.”

As a singer-songwriter, Eve- Yasmine released her debut EP Femme Fatale in 2020 and had singles like Glow Up, Habibi and Losing You has been featured on Complex UK, BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Radio London, BBC Asian Network, Rinse FM, Singersroom and ThisisRNB to name a few. She has also headlined O2 Academy Islington. However, just as this career was taking off she would be forced to take a break due to an issue she was experiencing with her ears.

“I did my headline show at O2 Academy Islington.

“It was like, ‘This is it, this is my year, I’m going full into my dreams’, and then lockdown.

“But I kept going, got played on radio stations.

“It was very exciting, lots happening.

“I was getting a buzz and I was feeling so positive.

“And this was the moment where I actually felt like, ‘I’m getting heard, I’m getting seen as an independent artist and this means so much’.

“And around November 2020 I finished recording one song I’d written and my ears were throbbing really badly.

“I thought it would just be a one-off thing.

“And it just got worse. I had to stop recording.

“I was like, ‘Okay, this doesn’t seem to be going away’.

“I’m going to have to really re-evaluate things because music still and always will be something that I’m going to push.

“But at this current moment in my life my body’s telling me, ‘This is not what you need to be doing’.

“Coming out of lockdown I was like, ‘Okay, I can’t be gigging or being in loud environments. How am I going to pursue this creative path?’

“Acting has always been something I was very passionate about but I never seemed to get it look in, but I suddenly felt like there were roles that I could go for. And I was getting them and it started to work.”

The issue with Eve- Yasmine’s ears would be Hyperacusis, an increased sensitivity to sound.

“I was told I had it years ago and it’s something I had lived with but it just got worse in the last two years.

“So I’ve taken a big break from recording just to let my ears rest.

“I hope it’s something that I can gradually train myself to adapt to.”

Eve-Yasmine hopes to return to music and for the world to hear her work with a well known producer who has worked with big names like Nelly Furtado, Jamie Foxx and Sean Paul.

“I miss music.

“I’ve got loads of songs ready and lined up because I was planning on putting out an album. I had a whole plan in my head.

“Last summer, I connected with this music producer who’s an absolute legend in the game.

“His name’s Krunk-a-Delic.

“He invited me for a session.

“I’d shown him one of the songs I’d written and lockdown and we recorded it.

“So they just need to finish final mixing on that but I’d say it’s one of my best songs so far.

“I’m so excited to start releasing again.

“I think the next chapter of music will be the best one.”

Was it scary when her hearing, the sense that her musical ambitions relied on, was affected by something unknown? “Yeah, definitely but it’s not the first time I’ve had something like that.

“I had this thing called muscle tension dysphonia when I was in a gospel choir and I was waking up with no voice, nothing. And my throat was closing up all the time.

“That was really scary as well.

“Life is always gonna throw different things.

“You just have to think there’s a reason behind it.

“And if that hadn’t happened at that time, I wouldn’t have got into acting and experienced all these films that I’ve worked on.

“I got back into modelling, back into acting, back into dancing, anything I could.

“I was an extra in this film shooting in Watford and they asked the extras, ‘Is anyone a professional dancer?’”

Although Eve-Yasmine would never have described herself as a professional dancer, she thought her Bollywood training could be useful.

“Because they had labelled it a Bollywood shoot, I just assumed, ‘Okay, it’s Bollywood dancing. I’ll be able to do it’.

“So I put myself forward and turns out it was a Punjabi film.

“Turns out the guy who’s the lead is one of the most famous singers in the Punjabi scene and in India as well.

“His name’s Diljit Dosanjh and I have this short dance sequence with him, and I got seen a lot.

“And off the back of that, people started recognising me.

“I started getting Punjabi music videos.

“And then this make-up artist recommended me for what I thought was going to be another music video.

“They sent me a script and asked me, ‘Do you speak Punjabi?’

“And I said, ‘No, but let me try’.

“And this is the beginning of what I’ve discovered to be my niche, learning scripts phonetically.

“This whole past year, I’ve done a lot of roles in different languages and different accents.

“It’s challenging sometimes but it’s been really exciting.

“That’s how I got into Indian films.”

Eve-Yasmine’s part in Mister Mummy came after a disappointment and thanks to a connection she had with a casting director that she first encountered in her teens.

“I was asked to be in a film which I thought was going to be my first big Bollywood film.

“When I get to set, they’ve cut all my dialogue and it turns out my character is now dying.

“So that wasn’t going to plan as much.

“But they (the agency) ring me up like, ‘Eve, one of the actresses on this film has got COVID and we need to replace her immediately. Can you get up to Yorkshire today?’

“So I literally rushed to pack my things to get the train up.

“When I arrived on set it was my first time where I’m actually given a script.

“It hasn’t been cut out, it hasn’t been cancelled and I realise, ‘Okay, this is actually going to be my Bollywood debut’.

“I just loved every minute.

“It was a real pinch-me moment and I’m speaking to Riteish and Genelia.

“I was like, ‘This is my first Bollywood film and I’m really happy to be working with you both’.

“I’m playing a pregnant woman who’s hysterical and Riteish is this really strict, horrible head teacher and we have a big collision with each other.

“It was just fun to work with someone who’s got such great comedic timing and bounce off each other.

“I just never would have foreseen that I would end up in comedy, in Bollywood and on that set.”

Eve- Yasmine was given a prosthetic baby bump but found she could do one scene without it.

“They had this fake prosthetic thing.

“They’re like, ‘Her bump can’t be too big’.

“Now, I had just had pasta for lunch and I get bloated.

“I was like, ‘Guys, you can take this off, and I’ll just stick my tummy out’.

“And they were like, ‘You know what? That’s a good idea’.

“So for that shot, I’m literally just using my own stomach.

“Who knew the advantages of IBS?” The film was not released into UK cinemas but is on Netflix.

With Spanish/ Moroccan roots on the other side of her family, the musician credits her grandfather Kevin, from the Irish side of her family, with inspiring her early on to pursue both music and drama.

From Harrow to Bollywood Harrow Online
Eve-Yasmine. Photographer: Kami Kerub Make-up Artist: Elda Kastrati Hair stylist: Rich Vasisht

“He was just such an incredible man, such an incredible man.

“I think about him a lot.

“I loved him. I love him.

“I’m so grateful he was my grandpa, he was full of knowledge.

“He was so inspired by music.

“Growing up, he would take me to my dance classes.

“My grandpa would take me on the bus and he picked me up from dance classes.

“And I’ve still got this memory of him at Harrow Arts Centre walking up and waiting outside with his walking stick in his cream coat.

“I just remember how much of an effort he made to help me go to my classes as a kid.

“It was my grandparents who paid for me to go to the Bollywood dance classes so it’s really a huge thanks to him that I was able to do that.”

He would no doubt be proud if he could see where it has led Eve-Yasmine.

“I wish he could see it.”

Mister Mummy is on Netflix. For more information, click here. This article first appeared in the Irish World.