Nora Fatehi is a Morrocan-Canadian actress now known in Bollywood as a dancing sensation. The 26- year-old has done several items songs over the last few years. More recently, she performed in the John Abraham-starrer Satyamev Jayate, in a song called “Dilbar”, which has received millions of hits online. In conversation with Guardian 20, Fatehi talks about her passion for dance and her upcoming ventures.
Q. You are known as an expert belly dancer. How were you introduced to this dance form?
A. I’ve been fascinated by it since I was very young. Arabic dancing is part of Moroccan and Middle-Eastern cultures. Though everyone knows the basic steps, not many are aware of the advanced level of belly dancing. So I always used to practice the basic steps. I would see the elders in the family performing it at family functions and weddings. I realised at the age of 10 that I have the talent beyond just the basics. I used to perform on stage in school in Canada, and it was something different for everyone to see. As I got older I wanted to learn more, but did not have the opportunity. So instead I used to watch videos of famous performers worldwide and learn their moves on my own at home in front of a mirror. I would practice daily until I perfected the moves. I still do that because it’s a never-ending learning process.
Q. How do you think Bollywood is contributing to popularising different dance forms?
A. I feel Bollywood is open to experimenting and trying new dance styles. There are so many other styles that are yet to be introduced in Bollywood and I hope I get a chance to do those. In my opinion, Bollywood definitely has a major role to play in this, as it’s a huge platform and one the biggest industries, watched by billions of people around the world.
Q. Which other dance forms are you interested in?
A. I’ve been really into Afro funk and dancehall since I was in high school. It’s a style which I find really fun to do.
Q. How was your experience of recreating the song “Dilbar”, filling in the shoes of Sushmita Sen? Did you expect such an immense response to it?
A. It’s been a beautiful and life-changing experience. It was an honour to be a part of such an iconic project and I am so humbled by the phenomenal reactions to the song. I am actually still in disbelief that the song has broken records on YouTube and is making news internationally. Even the famous Arabic singer, Saad Lamjarred, who I will be working with soon, has posted the song on his Instagram story celebrating the success of “Dilbar”. So I am very happy with the results.
Q. You were also part of the thriller film My Birthday Song. Are you planning to associate more with mainstream Bollywood?
A. Yes, I am planning it and hopefully, I will be a part of this industry as an actress very soon. I just want to be a part of great projects. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie or a web series or an international project. As long as I’m enjoying myself and working with incredible people I am happy.
Q. You come from a non-Hindi background. How difficult has it been for you to work in Hindi films?
A. It can be tough, but as long as you are focused and determined, anything is possible.
Q. You are presently hosting a reality show called Dating in the Dark. Do you find it challenging to host reality shows?
A. It’s not easy hosting any show on television as it requires long hours of shoot and lots of talking. Especially with Dating In the Dark, there are hardly any lines given. So I have to do a lot of impromptu talking and discussions with the contestants. I have to maintain high energy and fun factor constantly. But I must say I really enjoy it.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming collaboration with the Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred.
A. Our collaboration is going to be epic. I’ve heard the song already and it’s a sure hit. We will be shooting in India and we are making sure that we add Bollywood elements to the music video which will be fun. I love mixing different cultures when it comes to art. It’s a beautiful opportunity to bring people together from different cultures.
Q. What else are you coming up with this year?
A. There are many things in the pipeline which I have not announced yet and really cannot speak of them right now. However, they will be announced soon and I’m really excited about them.