Breaking into Bollywood: TVCs, The Start... !

Danny Sura , 13 Jan 2012

If you’ve missed it please revisit and catch up on the chronicles of a certain Mr. Danny Sura who may well be on his way to Bollywood stardom here (and you get to watch it happen, from scratch!) And yup he’s had to do just that *lol* pump iron and shave his chest on the journey so far, so we at wish only the very best for him and hopefully a mention at the Oscars one day :) xoxo

Danny Sura
Danny Sura

Happy New Year, y’all… all the way from the freezing UK! Y-es, I’m back on these familiar shores for a month, to make up for all the fry-ups and fish and chips missed, and convert my four-pack to a giant one-pack in the process… :-) Right before I left Mumbai I was in Thailand  to shoot a commercial, so I thought I’ll talk about the less-glamourous shorter cousin of Bollywood (or films), today.

My first paid job in India came to me a little over a month after I’d arrived in India, a TVC for a Channel [V] show called “Axe Ur Ex”. It was an experience I’ll never forget. And it’s *not only* for the reason that you’re thinking!

It coincided with my first voyage to the metrosexual waters! Being a Punjabi, it’s in my psyche that the amount of body hair is directly proportional to one’s manliness. So imagine my horror when I learnt – as I walked in, full of adrenaline and excitement, to the set in Madh Island on a scorching July day ‒ that I needed to SHAVE OFF my treasured chest, back and armpit hair :[email protected] Let’s just say that after being stripped clean, I felt indescribably violated… And. Just. Couldn’t. Wait. For it to all grow back.

Reliance 3G 

The next assignment was a TVC for Reliance 3G, and I was quite chuffed to have bagged it. Not only because it was a big brand, but also for having fended off competition from lots and lots of hopeful actors and models, that too with my then dodgy (!!) Hindi. Like I said about auditions, the trick is to watch others’ takes and improvise on them, on the spot ‒ which is exactly what I did. After a week I was told that I got the role :-D The production value for this shoot was unbelievable. I was like a little boy in a sweet shop when I walked onto the set: it doubled up for an airport departure lounge, for crying out loud!

I totally forgot that my voice would be dubbed, which is customary for TVCs (except in cases of a handful of Bollywood folks), so when I saw the spot on TV I kept scratching my head and saying to myself: “Whaaaat, when did my voice break like THAT???!!!?”

Backstage at UTV Stars’s “Live My Life!”: See what I meant by feeling like a sooperstar??

For the men who are following my posts, you know that when we watch a Bollywood film and see Hrithik Roshan bust a move, Salman Khan rip off his shirt and kick some major ass, Shah Rukh Khan get the girl at the end, we all picture ourselves doing that, right? Or, is it just me who has these weird fantasies?? :-S Erm, my next TVC let me do them all – of course, briefly ‒ and hence was my most exciting assignment in Mumbai yet. It was for UTV Stars’s “Live My Life!”, after all! At the audition I had to show the casting directors that I had good facial expressions, could fight and dance. Now facial expressions and fighting were a doddle, but dancing… !!! Although I don’t have two left feet ‒ fortunately! – making up a dance routine out of thin air is a knack, sadly, that I don’t posses. So I let my legs and hips take me wherever they wanted and ‒ PHEW! – they didn’t go too much towards the female casting director in the room.

I wanted the part so badly that when I got THE call, I nearly ended up doing the split! (If only I wasn’t wearing those sodding skin tight jeans at that moment…) On the set I felt like a real superstar: from having my own van, working with choreographers and beautiful women, to praises from the director about my performance :-D

In Malaysia, with the director (right) of the spot
In Malaysia: Getting some slap on for my take (left); hanging out with the crew (right)

Ever since I’ve been on this mission in India to break into Bollywood, I had certain questions hovering in my mind: am I good looking enough, have I got the talent and that “X-Factor”, are my teeth white enough? Well, getting the male lead for the “Malaysia, Truly Asia” gig put them all to bed! (Still in doubt about the pearly whites though). People from the acting and modelling fraternity came to audition for this part, which lasted four days. When I saw the competition, as I waited in line, I gave up straight away thinking: “If the talent will be chosen on looks alone ‒ I’ve no bloomin’ chance!”

Final audition for “Malaysia, Truly Asia”

For the male lead, one had to demonstrate that he was taken aback by Malaysia so much so that he ignored his wife. But most people did the complete opposite! Anyway, I did my audition and felt I did a pants job. So I came back the next day to audition again, which surprised the casting director. One week passed and no phone call. Another week passed and still nothing. “Ahhh well,” I thought, “I didn’t have a chance anyway!” Then I got the call a few weeks after, that I was one of the two shortlisted (who I later found out was an established TV actor!!) and have to audition again the following week. I was so ecstatic that I broke into bhangra! But hang on – I was only shortlisted, I still had to audition.

As fate would have it, I got the part :-D I asked the casting directors why they chose me, to which they replied, “Danny, in all honesty your audition was crap. But we liked your facial expressions.” A good enough reason for me!

Happy New Year from all of us in Blighty… :-D

Until next time, keep warm, and yes, follow me (@DannySura) on Twitter, pleeeease!

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