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Dubai-born gets Bhojpuri reel of life

- Former Bangalore model roughs it out in Maoist territory for debut film

She was born Alfeeya A. Shaikh in Dubai. Bangalore turned her into a model. Now she has been reborn as actress Noori Shaikh, thanks to the Bhojpuri film industry.

And it was not an easy gestation period for the former beauty queen, who spent difficult days in Maoist-affected Jehanabad district, shooting for the Bhojpuri film Ladai directed by Anand Gahatraj.

Made under the banner of A Square Production, Ladai revolves around the lives of two friends who turn into foes.

Dubai-born Noori (25) came into the limelight after winning a beauty contest conducted by a Bangalore magazine for southern region in 2008. I never looked back after that, continuing my modelling career. I used to get many offers in south Indian films but the scripts were unappealing. In 2012, I moved to Mumbai and met Haider Kazmi, who has worked in a few Bhojpuri films. He offered me a role in his next film Ladai, said Noori.

Produced by K.K. Tiwari, the film was shot in Alinagar Pali village of Jehanabad, around 55km south of Patna. The 150-member film crew stayed in the village for a month.

Jehanabad was in the news in 2005 when Maoists struck the district headquarters, killed five people and freed 250 of their cadre from a prison.

Noori, who played Paro opposite Haider, said: I never imagined acting would be so difficult in an alien location. One has to give ones best where facilities are limited. I wasnt even aware the place was Maoist territory until we had shot for five days. However, my co-stars Haider, Vishal and Anjana Singh supported me all through, she said.

Noori praised the Bhojpuri film industry too. I was not familiar with Bhojpuri language but my co-stars helped me a lot. Though I faced plenty of problems, I also learnt lots of things. I used to miss my idli, rava idli, oninon uttappam and Hyderabadi biryani in the village. However, I never complained. I would love to work there again, she said. Her film hit screens on Friday. It was received well.

The Bhojpuri film industry has launched many faces remotely connected to Bihar, like Rinku Ghosh (Calcutta), Rani Chatterjee (Bangalore), Anjana Singh (Lucknow) and Pakhi Hegde (Mumbai).

Noorie had no formal training in acting but used to frequent Bangalore Theatre. She studied at Dubai Gem Private School till Class VII and then moved to Bangalore where she completed her Class XII from Bishop Cotton Girls School. In 2008 she did an MBA from Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Bangalore. After winning the beauty contest in 2008, Noori trained under fashion designer Prasad Bidapa who has created many big names in the fashion and film industry, like Lara Dutta, Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone. It was my privilege that Bidapa shaped my modelling career, said Noori.

From 2008 to 2012 she walked the ramp at Lakme Fashion Week, Bangalore Fashion Week, Hyderabad Fashion Week and worked for Kingfisher.