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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

An Aussie girl in Mumbai

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Tiegan wins the chance of a lifetime to star in a Bollywood film. DANIELLE MATHIAS reports

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As a young child Teigan Lloyd-Evans would sit down with her mum to watch Bollywood films. She never imagined then that she would one day get a chance to be part of the most prolific film industry in the world.

However, the 24-year-old winner of the SBS TV show Bollywood Star has landed a role in a film directed by the legendary Indian film-maker Mahesh Bhatt, and is on her way to a challenging – and hopefully prosperous – Bollywood career.

It was her passion for Bollywood films that made the Gold Coast native decide to audition for Bollywood Star, a reality show that sought Bollywood aspirants in Australia to prove their acting prowess and win a chance to act in a Hindi movie.

“When this opportunity arose, it just felt right,” Teigan told Indian Link.

“I could have ignored my interest in this industry, but when you know something feels right, you have to go for it!”

As she got older, Teigan began to see ‘being white’ as being less of an issue in relation to a career in films, despite her Welsh, Danish and Australian backgrounds.

“Why can’t a Caucasian girl be accepted in Bollywood, I said to myself. That just seems ridiculous in this day and age. I believed that with the right help and with persistence. (I could make it). There was nothing I could foresee that was going to stop me on this journey”.

The most challenging aspect of the competition for this gutsy young lady was being unable to speak Hindi, but she was determined to learn the language.

“A lot of people didn’t believe in me because I don’t speak Hindi,” she revealed. “But as I have tried to tell a lot of people, it is a language. A lot of people learn a new language every day for different opportunities in life, so why can’t I?”

From the histrionics point of view, emotions often hindered rather than helped Teigan throughout the competition. She also said that personal challenges allowed her to relate more closely to Bollywood films. “I think in life you go through phases, and it was such an amazing phase of my life being involved in Bollywood Star. I was too elated to act with my raw emotion!” revealed Teigan.

“Bollywood films have such raw, undefeatable, intense pain and emotion, it just strikes a chord in me. I come from a very small family which has been torn apart and there is no longer a sense of ‘family’ left. That has always been a huge struggle for me, because I know what it is like to have that beautiful family bond and struggle with the loss of it,” she added.

The last few years have been challenging for Teigan: her parents split up, her relationship broke down, and her beloved dog passed away. She tackled Bollywood Star with newfound determination, and came out with flying colours.

During the competition the six finalists were sent to Mumbai to undergo intense Bollywood training and get an insight into Indian culture. In the fourth episode, Teigan and the other contestants were split up and sent to live with Indian families in the slums of Dharavi for 24 hours. It became an experience Teigan isn’t likely to forget in a hurry.

“Mumbai was crazy! It is a place where you can’t stop watching what is going on around you in case you miss something. Living with my little family for a night taught me so many things about how strong people are, and how happiness is rife in all walks of life no matter how sad or heartbreaking. I don’t think I have ever been so impressed with a community in my life!”

Although living in India is such a stark contrast to the Australian lifestyle, the true blue Aussie never felt homesick.

“Of course, I think the majority of Australians would struggle slightly,”

she admitted. “But honestly I was just so happy to be there and absorb this amazing place that it didn’t really get to me. We are so fortunate in Australia, and whenever I would start to think about this contrast it made me so grateful to be able to experience a place like India so I can grow as a person and expand my knowledge of the world”.

Teigan had a good rapport with all the judges throughout the competition.

Indeed, judge Anupam Sharma’s excited mutterings as soon as she walked into that audition, gave it away that we would be seeing more of her in the coming episodes! But Teigan claims it was with Emma Brown Garrett that she bonded most.

“All of the judges helped me immensely. I had a fantastic relationship with Emma – she is such a lovely woman, she wanted to help us in any way she could,” revealed the young wannabe actress. Emma Brown Garrett is a Caucasian Australian actress working in Bollywood films.

During the competition, Teigan became very close to the other finalists – Gautam “G-Luv” Koul, Sharon Johal and Sarah Roberts.

“I really hold my relationships with the other finalists close to my heart,”

said Teigan with disarming candidness. “They are all so beautiful and so individual. There is honestly not a single bad thing that would even cross my mind about any of them. They are stand up people. Anyone who has the chance to know any one of them is a lucky person”.

Although she is now famous for winning Bollywood Star, there is more to Teigan than just that.  She applied 3 years ago to be a student paramedic from Queensland, and is currently in training, living two of her dreams at the same time.

“My experiences with Bollywood Star have helped me to be a better, more caring paramedic,” she said.

Teigan’s mother, who not only introduced her to Bollywood but also to Bollywood Star, has been a huge influence in her life and her success. “When I first watched Bollywood, I thought this is just so beautiful, it’s so free, it’s so colourful,” said Teigan’s mother in an interview on SBS. She mother has been very supportive of both Teigan’s career choices.

“My mum would have always rooted for my career as a Bollywood star,” Teigan acknowledged. “She has always said that. I know she is biased because she is my mother, but your mother knows you better than anyone, and she has always wanted me to try this avenue!”

In December this year, Teigan will fly to Mumbai to star in Mahesh Bhatt’s film. “I seriously can’t wait and I am extremely grateful to be able to make a movie with him,” she said enthusiastically.

Teigan described winning Bollywood Star as being the turning point of her life. Through her hard-work, determination and positive attitude, she has made a social impact and has raised the profile of Bollywood in Australia.

“I have been getting a lot of positive feedback since winning the title, mostly from young women who are Caucasian and feel they might be interested in giving the industry a go,” she said.

In terms of what the future holds for her two dreams, Teigan said with a smile, “My life in the next few weeks, months and years is going to have serious time management issues! I will do the best that I can with what time I have, but obviously these are two careers that are both very time consuming. I could never make a choice between either of them as I am extremely passionate about both. Just wish me luck!”

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