Meet Natasa Stankovic from Serbia who dances, acts, models, and even sings-all while simultaneously learning English and Hindi
The first thing that strikes you about Natasa apart from her fabulous height of 5”8 is, paradoxically, her humility and down-to-earthness. She was ready for the interview even before I was, but that didn’t stop her from extending a warm welcome in the form of a hug, and we sat down over coffee – like long lost friends, even though we were meeting for the first time. “Excuse my English,” she says, and I wonder why because it’s close to perfect. She mentions how she couldn’t speak a word of English or Hindi when she came to India in 2013. And she hasn’t learnt it through classes. “Just through conversing with people around me and watching TV shows,” she quips and that’s really impressive. “I still need to work on my Hindi though, but my basics are already strong. I don't struggle while talking to cabbies or the locals, and oftentimes they don't even think I am a foreigner."
We begin with her life in Serbia, where she learnt ballet for 17 years. Given that she’s a 90’s child, that’s more than half of her life dedicated to the dance form. Little wonder then that she’s effortless when it comes to this art. She agrees, “Acting isn’t enough in Bollywood. You need to express yourself through dance as well, and I’m glad I had a background in it. Even though a Bollywood dance routine is radically different from ballet, having your basics sorted is half the battle won.”
Natasa reminisces about her days in Bigg Boss, which she describes as “super challenging and difficult, but a life-changing experience. She elaborates, “I heard some people complain that it’s scripted and you’re told what to say, but this is completely untrue. Whatever you see on the show is authentic. It’s hard to completely be yourself when there are so many cameras around and language was a barrier too, but I think I managed really well.” We agree. She started her career with a number in the hit flick Satyagraha and since then has appeared in a number of films.
Her recent song, ‘Dance Dance’ in Arjun Rampal starrer Daddy won her a lot of acclaim, and she says it was quite a difficult feat – given that she had to look, act, and dance like someone from the 80s. “Imagine how hard that is for someone who wasn’t even born in the 80s,” she laughs. Soon after, she featured in Fukrey Returns and is currently considering many offers. With her humble attitude and commitment to work, we’re sure she’ll be seen in a number of interesting projects.
We discuss her family back in Serbia, and she gets emotional. “I’m very close to them, and I miss the fact that I’m not really there to see them grow into their old age. But I do make it a point to talk to my mother every single day and give her an update on all my activities. My family is so supportive – whenever I send them a clip of my movie or music video, they literally play it on loop all day!” she smiles. I ask her the much-debated question on nepotism in the industry, and she seems absolutely unruffled by it.
“To be honest, this happens everywhere. There’s no real point thinking about why it happens and getting all worked up about it. You win some projects, you lose some, and in the end it all balances out. If you believe in a higher power like I do, there’s no reason to fret. What you deserve will come your way,” she says philosophically as my respect for her continues to soar. Here is someone who came to this country not knowing what to expect, and has managed to make her life on her own terms. She’s already renting an apartment in the popular suburb of Bandra, Mumbai which still remains a distant dream for many in the industry.
I end with asking her the inevitable – what would she be doing if it wasn’t for acting and dancing? Pat comes the reply“Singing. I love to sing, and it’s something I’ve been interested in since a long time. I haven’t been formally trained in it yet, and I’m looking to join a music class in Mumbai soon.” If given a choice between acting and dance, she says “Why must I choose when I can do both well?” – there’s that understated confidence, I think to myself, and why not? She has what it takes to do well in this demanding industry. Watch out for Natasa on your screens. She’s here to stay.