Bollywood actor takes on shades of grey in new action thriller
She’s worked in the Pakistani film industry. She made her presence felt alongside Bollywood greats in Netflix’s first Indian original production. She got in touch with her inner singer during the pandemic. And now she’s heading to Hollywood. That’s Elnaaz Norouzi for you.
The Iranian-origin model and actress, who found fame in Bollywood, is currently in Dubai to promote her first-ever song La La Love, which has made its way to the top 3 list of DJ chartbusters in Germany and has garnered over a million views on YouTube ever since its release in July this year.
And Elnaaz is fascinated with the results, especially since it's her debut as a singer. “While it is hard to establish yourself as a new singer, the love and hardwork my entire team put into the release (of La La Love), made the process so much easier,” she said in a conversation with City Times at the Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai.
La La Love is also amongst the trendiest songs on Instagram Reels and TikTik videos and that’s the ultimate ‘wow’ factor for the new singer, in addition to having her debut song top the charts.
But singing was never something Elnaaz thought she would do. “It just happened,” she says, revealing how during the pandemic she met a music manager in Germany who offered to make music together. Elnaaz was free from shoots at the time and decided to explore another part of the entertainment industry.
“I was also taking vocal training because I wanted to work on my voice as an actor. So I continued that, kept working on my voice, and recorded La La Love and a couple more songs,” she added.
Does that mean we can expect some Hindi songs from her? She chuckled as she said, “Maybe. As of now, there is no Hindi song that I have sung. But I have gotten a couple of offers there, so maybe we can explore that.”
Elnaaz was last seen on screens in 2021 in Hello Charlie with Aadar Jain and Jackie Shroff, and in Chutzpah, a drama series on SonyLIV. This year, however, we have seen more of the actress in music videos. She marked her appearance in Duppata and Kala Sha Kala, club songs from Varun Dhawan, Anil Kapoor, and Kiara Advani-led Jugjugg Jeeyo, and Aditya Roy Kapur’s Rashtra Kavach Om, respectively.
And with her latest song, it seems like Elnaaz is concentrating more on music than acting. “It is just a phase,” she says, pointing out that acting is, and always will be, her “first love” and that she has upcoming projects in hand. Elnaaz, however, wants to strike a balance between singing and acting.
Road to Hollywood
A Hollywood film is amongst Elnaaz’s upcoming projects. The star is set to make her Hollywood debut with Kandahar, an action thriller directed by Ric Roman Waugh (Shot Caller, Greenland) starring popular actor Gerard Butler (300, Olympus Has Fallen). And Elnaaz was “extremely thrilled” when she learned of this. Interestingly, just weeks before, she had watched Ric’s Greenland, which also stars Butler. “I was like, is this really happening?” she said enthusiastically, adding that she is “extremely grateful” to be doing whatever helps her realize her dreams.
While Elnaaz remained tight-lipped about the premise of the film, she said it would be one of the biggest action films of 2023. Bollywood actor Ali Fazal, who has made his presence felt in Hollywood with films like Death on the Nile, Victoria and Abdul, and Fast & Furious 7, will also star in Kandahar.
Speaking of B-Town, Elnaaz will be next seen in Sangeen alongside her Sacred Games co-star Nawazuddin. “I am very excited about it, though it is kind of taking some time. It is a very cool thriller, and you can imagine, Nawazuddin in a thriller is just insane,” Elnaaz said, adding that she also has Made in Heaven Part 2 in her kitty. The actor is also starting other projects soon which she didn't want to reveal too much about.
Life in B-Town
Bollywood buffs remember and cherish Shah Rukh Khan’s famous dialogue about wanting something so badly that everything helps you achieve it. For the unversed, the dialogue is from Om Shanti Om (2007).
As for Elnaaz, she comes from a similar school of thought. “If you don’t really want something badly, you are not going to stick around. Because the journey is going to be so long and so hard, that you must have that extreme chaahat (longing) in you that will make you say ‘It’s okay, I will stick and go through this hard road. I’ll go through all of these obstacles. I’ll stay and not give up,’” she said. And Elnaaz believes if you don’t have that chaahat, you can’t make it.
And while there are several lessons Elnaaz has learned during her journey, the one she deems most valuable is sacrifice. “Be it professionally or in my private life, be it with my parents or my friends and relationships, I have had to sacrifice so much in this journey,” she said. “Sacrifice is a huge part of success because you can’t have everything. Maybe at some point it is possible, but you have to sacrifice a lot to get where you want to be. And that’s something I never thought I would have to do.”
For Elnaaz, it is “super important” to stay close to her roots. The actress took us through her initial days in B-Town when there were several questions regarding her name. People would suggest calling her ‘Naaz,’ ‘Naaz Ali’ to make her sound more Indian, or using her father’s name as her last name.
“I was doing everything to adapt, to make myself one of you all because that’s where my heart is,” she said. “But at the end of the day I am Iranian. I was born in Iran, I love Iran. It is where I am from. It is my being. So I am not going to put that aside just because I want to make it somewhere.”
Elnaaz affirmed that she chose the struggle of people not being able to say her name correctly, the struggle of people thinking she’s a foreigner who can’t speak Hindi, and the struggle of people thinking that a foreigner cannot make it in Bollywood.
“I chose all that over changing my identity,” she said, adding that there are a few similarities between the Indian and Iranian cultures, like warmth and family values. “We are close to each other in that sense; I am Iranian, but I am made in India.”
Looking back, the 30-year-old actress only has two words for her younger self. “My younger self wanted all of this but never knew it was going to be possible,” she said. “But now I just know that it only happened because I was persistent. I didn't give up and I worked hard. So I would just tell my younger self ‘well done.’
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