Dancer-actor Lauren Gottlieb was an instant hit in Punjab – she greeted everyone with folded hands with a ‘Sat Sri Akal’ and uttered ‘Hai rabba’ in reply to co-star Diljit Dosanjh’s compliment.
Set to debut in Pollywood as a Canadian Punjabi in the upcoming flick Ambarsariya, Gottlieb were all praises for her co-star Dosanjh and Punjab. “Punjabi culture, food, colours, clothes, the vibe — I like everything about the place. And yes, Diljit is a rockstar. Singer, actor, dancer — he is a triple threat,” she said.
Gottlieb was in Chandigarh to promote her film along with Monica Gill, Navneet Dhillon, Rana Ranbir, Karamjit Anmol, Dosanjh and Tips Kumar Taurani at the newly-opened Cinepolis in Sector 17 on Monday.
Stepping into Punjabi cinema and that too as an actor and not a dancer, Gottlieb made it a point to dub her dialogues in Punjabi herself.
“Because I am an NRI in the film, the accent sounds authentic. But it was difficult, because the dialogues were translated to Roman Punjabi first and then the Punjabi words to Hindi for me to understand and emote,” she said.
The greatest pull for Gottlieb, apart from Dosanjh of course, was to be in the holy city of Amritsar. “It was such a calming feeling,” she said.
Born and brought up in Arizona, dancing and acting in Hollywood in LA for seven years, Gottlieb shared how, before coming to India, she was living in a bubble.
“It’s actually sad for I was never really exposed to anything India or Indian. I was working with Rihana, Tom Cruise, Beyonce in films and television (So You Think You Can Dance) and giving dance lessons to actors like Toby Maguire,” she said.
Things started looking up and she went on to audition for the film franchise of Step Up. “I went for Step Up 4 audition and was sure I will make it. I did not and I was shattered. That very morning at 4am, I received an email from someone named Remo D’Souza and Prabhudeva and UTV. I googled them and found it to be authentic and decided to give it a shot,” Gottlieb said.
What was meant to be a short stint of three months, a role in ABCD (Any Body Can Dance), turned into a full-time commitment for the dancer-actor. It’s been three years and Gottlieb calls herself an American Indian and India as her “destiny.” This is the place she gets to experiment and explore, act and dance in the same frame, something which she could not do back home.
“Unless it is a musical or Broadway show, one cannot sing and act in films or television in Hollywood. You have to choose one and it was frustrating for me,” said Gottlieb, who came to Mumbai to be an actress and not a dancer.
Jhalak Dikhla Jaa catapulted her to dizzying heights and saw her as a judge with Shahid Kapur and Karan Johar in the same frame.
Unlike Indian actors caught in stereotypical roles abroad, Gottlieb’s challenge is to make people and industry take her seriously as an actor. After doing films like Welcome to Karachi, Welcome Back, ABCD, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, Gottlieb said she would love to work with Imtiaz Ali and Karan Johar. “And open a dance studio some day,” she added.