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Bollywood in the Pioneer Valley

New junior Ayesha Kapur ’13 has a unique talent for acting, which she developed at a young age in her home country, India.

While most nine-year-old girls were busy playing with dolls and fantasizing about becoming movie stars, nine-year-old Kapur was actually cast in the Bollywood film Black, which kicked off her acting career.

She worked not only with the acclaimed Bollywood director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, but also with Amitabh Bachchan, who was voted “Superstar of the Millennium” in 2000 by the Indian film industry. Despite her major role, for which she won seven awards, Kapur recalled, “I was so young at the time, so I wasn’t really aware of everything that was happening.”

She went on to star in two more films, Sanaa and Sikandar. The latter film was actually shot in Hindi, a challenge to Kapur, whose first language is English. Kapur admitted she was somewhat nervous on her first day of shooting, as sometimes she felt like she was “speaking gibberish.”

After a handful of interviews and speeches, as well as hours on camera, Kapur realized that she has “learned how to talk to people. It’s so often in life that you go through things like that.”

Although acting gave her the essential skills necessary to talk to others, Kapur mentioned that for one role, her director told her not to talk to anybody before shooting, for fear that she would “jump out of her character.”

Kapur always enjoys finding her character inside of herself and explained, “I loved the feeling that I could just become somebody else through my imagination.”

When asked if she noticed any differences between Bollywood films and Hollywood films, she responded, “Definitely, I do. Indian films are a lot more dramatic, American films are subtler…” Kapur admitted that she would love to try and act in a Hollywood film.

Kapur knows that fame can be somewhat consuming, if one isn’t careful. “My parents were a bit afraid of it at first, because it’s such a harsh business. It’s a difficult business for kids to get into.” Fortunately, Kapur was able to remain a normal child with other interests (such as competitive horseback riding, creative writing, and travelling), good friends, and a solid education.

Kapur is thrilled to be at Deerfield and explained, “My dad and three older brothers have all gone to prep school in America, and my dad always talks about how his education at Andover prepared him for everything he faced in life. I’m here because I want to learn how to learn.”

This term, she is taking Advanced Acting Tutorial, and is on the technical team for the fall play, Brighton Beach Memoirs. “I love it here. I think people are so positive and so nice. And it’s not always about studying all of the time here. It’s a good mixture of both,” finished Kapur enthusiastically.

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