British model-turned-actor Amy Maghera crafts a melange of stories with each release. After playing lead in highly-acclaimed movie, Angry Indian Goddesses; and UK soap series, Hollyoaks, this certified yoga trainer and professional dancer is now gearing up for her latest Netflix project—Skater Girl. In an exclusive conversation with us, she tells us all about the movie, shooting in rural Rajasthan, and her multi-cultural upbringing. By Bayar Jain
1. What was it like growing up and being raised in a British home with Punjabi and Scottish-English parents? How has this impacted your career?
It was definitely unlike any of my friends’ households! My dad is a folk musician, so he’d often host band practices with his friends. So, our house would be filled with English and Scottish jigs. On other days, we’d be eating dal (lentil) and learning Punjabi from my mum.
I definitely feel it has impacted my career in a good way: by giving me an insight into different cultures, and being able to relate to and work with people from all sorts of backgrounds.
2. As a British model who has worked across Hindi, English, and Punjabi film industries, how do you adapt to various audiences as an actor?
I honestly just try and stay true to myself rather than trying to portray something that I think might work for a particular audience. Having said that, yes, I spend more time on my lines if I’m speaking in a different language and bear in mind the genre of the work. Other than that, I don’t do anything different to adapt.
3. From being a dancer to becoming a model, and now an actor…how has the journey been like for you?
It’s been a very unpredictable, wild, funny, at times hard, but fun adventure! I never imagined I would move so many times and be able to work and live in different places whilst also learning about my Indian culture. I am very grateful.
4. Tell us about your upcoming feature film, Skater Girl.
It’s a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl, Prerna, who discovers a passion for skateboarding through Jessica–my character– who is also on a search of her own. It’s shot in a remote, rural village of Rajasthan. The filmmakers [Manjari Makijany and Vinati Makijany] were some of the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life. They built one of India’s biggest skateparks not only for the movie, but also for the children and people in the community to enjoy even after the shoot. It’s a film about hope and courage, and I absolutely loved being a part of it.
5. What were some of your favourite locations while shooting for Skater Girl in Rajasthan?
The skatepark in Khempur became very special to all of us as we spent so much time there. We even spent Diwali there by bordering the skatepark bowls with lights and candles. It’s a very peaceful place with lots of nature around it. We’d often arrive there before sunrise—it was so beautiful and calm! I also got to spend some time in Udaipur, which I wanted to visit for years.
6. A large part of your shooting schedule required engaging with the locals. What was the experience like?
So lovely! I felt myself shifting gears from being manic. Having arrived from bustling London to suddenly arriving in a small village where people are far more present and have time to engage… The people were so welcoming. The young kids, especially girls, would come to say hi, have a conversation and ask me questions.
7. A hidden gem—anywhere in the world—that you discovered while travelling professionally?
Although not hidden, I didn’t know too much about the place before visiting it. We shot some episodes of Hollyoaks in Ibiza, and up until then, I thought Ibiza was just Pacha and clubs! When I visited, I discovered the old town of Ibiza where there were amazing cobbled streets full of culture, charm and characterful buildings. Definitely felt more than a clubbing strip!
8. What is your take on fast fashion?
I get that people want to stay in trend but can’t pay crazy prices; I’ve shopped at the likes of Primark when I was younger. Now that I’m more aware of the effects of fast fashion, I’ve stopped shopping at such places. Now, I love going to thrift stores and prefer spending on quality stuff that I know is going to last.
9. Where would you like to go on a holiday once the pandemic subsides?
First, I’ll be going on a holiday to my parents’ house in Milton Keynes in England. I haven’t seen my family for over a year. From there, maybe somewhere like Italy or Spain. I’ll be happy to go anywhere!
10. Tips on becoming a more conscious traveller?
I’m definitely not an expert on this! However, I like to embrace the local culture by eating at local restaurants and trying things famous to the region wherever I go. I never really understood why people who visit a different country would want to eat at a McDonald’s!
I also think respecting people’s customs and way of doing things is a big step [towards travelling consciously].
Editor’s Note: Keeping the current situation of the pandemic in mind, T+L India recommends every reader to stay safe, and take all government-regulated precautions in case travel at this time is absolutely necessary. Please follow our stories on COVID-19 for all the latest travel guidelines.