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Meet Bollywood's new Miss Know-it-all?

Elena Kazan is one foreign import to Bollywood who seems to be quite ready to take on an industry that has a certain take on white skin extras. It’s almost rare to come across someone among them who has watched myriad Hindi films and even understands Guru Dutt’s genius as well as Kalpana Lajmi’s subtlety. She even speaks Hindi fluently!

With her Central Asian surname and German-Russian roots, Elena is definitely cued in to the industry than a lot more industrywallahs. And she is opinionated too when it comes to certain stereotypes in Hindi films. This one Bollywood film-old actress feels female characters aren’t well defined in Hindi cinema.

“It’s boring to see beautiful women having no ambition except to fall in love. Of course, the trend is improving. Like Deepika Padukone was restoring heritage buildings in Love Aaj Kal and Vidya Balan fighting her own battle in Kahaani. There are many more such encouraging examples,” sighs Elena.

Born in Moscow before moving to Berlin, the now Mumbai-based starlet didn’t really grow up watching Hindi movies but her eventual visit to United States as an exchange student changed everything. There she used to borrow rented DVDs with subtitles, through which she even picked up the language.

Being self-confessedly adventurous, after her education she travelled to Kolkata to work for an NGO. Alongside she was modelling and auditioning for roles in the local film industry too. In India since 2008, Elena calls her B-Town journey “rather accidental” and has appeared in several Bengali films before sharing the screen with Saif Ali Khan in Agent Vinod.

After that minor role, Elena will be next seen playing the lead opposite Randeep Hooda in debutant director Solomon Ahishor’s forthcoming film. “I’m essaying this edgy Iranian girl with a dark past and a complicated present in a revenge drama,” the 25-year-old adds.

She counts Naseeruddin Shah and Tabu among the best actors in the country. And to add to her joy she’ll be co-starring with Naseer in her aforementioned project, “I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to work with him. He’s phenomenal on screen and inspires me a lot.” 

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