Sadia Nabila is an expatriate Bangladeshi model and actor based in Australia. She first made headlines for winning the title of 1st Runner-up in Miss India Worldwide in 2017. Subsequently, she starred in a Bollywood film Pareshaan Parinda. Currently, she is working on the Bangladeshi film Mission Extreme, directed by Sunny Sanwar, alongside Arifin Shuvoo. In an exclusive interview with DhakaTribune Showtime's Faruque Ratul, Sadia reveals the story behind her magical start, and what she wants to be known for
When did you begin modelling? Have you always wanted to pursue this profession?
Tricky question. Since I was a kid, I was always a part of cultural activities. I took part in several national singing and dancing competitions, and did multiple shows. However, I was always fascinated watching different models and actresses on TV. I still remember those days when I tried to act like them in front of the mirror. In 2013, I moved to Australia to pursue my undergraduate degree in Information and Technology. That is when I wanted to do more than singing and dancing. I joined a modelling agency in Australia and have not looked back since.
Will you share the experience of winning the title of 1st Runners-up in Miss India Worldwide?
It was really unbelievable. At that time, I was doing photo shoots in different cities throughout the year. Some of my colleagues encouraged me to apply for the Miss India Worldwide beauty pageant. As soon as it was announced that it would take place in Australia, with even Urmila Matondkar coming to Australia to hold the event in Sydney, I just applied for it without thinking about anything else.
They got back to me through email and asked me to come to the workshops before the pageant. I was looking forward to gaining some more experience on this platform, so I went there and it was really fun. However, afterwards, the competition got serious. There were several rounds and I felt paranoid about being the only Bangladeshi contestant in the entire pageant. At a Valentine's dinner with the organizers, judges and John Abraham, I was overwhelmed and some of my seniors consoled me and asked me to relax. They told me to just focus on my performance and think of myself as a participant from the subcontinent.
It was a real surprise when I was selected as one of the top ten. When they announced that I was first runner-up, I was gobsmacked. It was a life changing moment for me.
How was the meeting with Bollywood heartthrob John Abraham?
It was awesome. He is really humble. From the roles we see him play on the silver screen, we are tempted to think that he is rough and tough. On the contrary, he is really down to earth. He does not show his ego or attitude. He is really a nice man.
What is your experience of working in different production houses throughout your career? How was the team behind the Bollywood film you starred in?
From my personal experience, every production house is different. While working in Australia, I get to work with different people from different countries as it is a multinational country. This is an amazing experience.
When I work for Bangladeshi production houses, that is a whole different scenario. First of all, that's my homeland. There's always this connection you know. The environment has lot more love and affection. There is a camaraderie among the entire crew.
Luckily, I have always had good experiences with the teams I have worked with. I feel like, at the end of the day, it' all about whether you are willing to open up to things or not. We are here to do what we desire, and enjoy what we do. Creating a positive environment for everyone is something we can all do if we try.
When I went to the pageant in 2017, that is when the Bollywood film crew asked me to come for an audition. The production house was based in New Zealand, and I had to give three auditions before I was selected.
At first, I was a bit nervous about Pareshaan Parinda, as the entire film was in Hindi and I never spoke in Hindi before that. I had to go through several workshops for language and acting. As this was my debut, the team was really supportive and helpful to me. The film was shot in Australia and Singapore. It was a great experience.
What should we look forward to in your upcoming Bangladeshi film Mission Extreme?
We are all very excited about Mission Extreme. Dhaka Attack was a hit, and everybody loved it. The expectations will be higher because of it, and we do not want to disappoint anyone. Hence, we are really working hard for the audience. We are almost done with the shooting. We just have a few bits and pieces left.
When I travelled to Bangladesh to meet the team for the first time, they all treated me like a family. They have been very kind. If I did not have the support of the team and crew, then I would not have been able to express myself. As this is an action thriller, we all had to work really hard to fulfil the requirements. We are just waiting for it to be finished. I am sure it will get the love of the people.
Do you enjoy acting more or modelling? Have you had any formal training in acting?
I was teaching dance in Canberra School of Bollywood Dancing before the pageant. I participated in some theatre workshops at that school around them. That was my first exposure to training in acting.
I also had to go through a lot of acting workshops for the Bollywood film. Then I flew to Bangladesh for working in a TV commercial, made by Adnan Al Rajeev. I also starred in a TV drama by Vicky Zahed.
Right now, I am more focused on acting. I want to learn more about acting and be part of good projects. I want to get the love from our people and become a memorable actor of Bangladesh.