Iqra Khan, the 13-year-old British Indian schoolgirl who was seen teaching dance steps to a police officer outside the Indian High Commission in London, has gained widespread popularity after the video went viral on social media.
Khan was present at the India House last month along with several diaspora members to show support to the High Commission following the attack by pro-Khalistani extremists, who tried to violate the Indian flag.
iGlobal caught up with the young diaspora member to find more about her experience teaching the Metropolitan Police some basic Bollywood steps, her dreams as the grand finalist of Miss Junior Teen Great Britain and her strong connect with her Indian heritage.
How did it feel to see your dance video go viral?
There's a story behind that video. After the police officers joined us, one of them came to me and asked if I could teach them a few steps. ‘Sauda Khara Khara’ was the song we danced to; the iconic step has been a big part of my life because I have performed on that song everywhere.
There were lots of people there and many of them recorded videos. Later when I was having lunch, someone got in touch saying, ‘your video has gone viral’. That's when we started searching it up. I was still having lunch and my video was all over India!
My video was on many news channels worldwide and had around 10 million views. I had no words. I was like, wow, I am everywhere. There must be so many people around the world looking at me. So many people were saying that this is the best video on the internet and the fact that I was a part of it was really special.
And, of course, I was very excited to perform in Indian High Commission. The biggest thing for me was that I was representing India. All my fellow Indians and everybody in India was watching. I was honoured that I got the opportunity to represent my country.
What about your experience as Miss Junior Teen Great Britain grand finalist?
It has been phenomenal. At first it was all about waiting to find out whether I have cleared the auditions, and then I was selected as a finalist, and now I've become a grand finalist! It was a roller coaster of emotions.
I'm waiting for October as that is when the finals will start. I'm really happy as I'm representing Southeast London in the competition, and I'm also really proud to be representing all the brown girls. I really want to win this for all the brown girls out there.
Pageants are wonderful. The crowns, the tiara, camera flashing and everything.
At what age did you start hosting host on ‘Ten News India’ and what was that like?
I started when I was 11. I was interviewing talented young people from the age of six all the way to 18.
There were artists, singers, poets and introducing their talent to the world was simply amazing, and I was also proud of myself for being a part of that project. I also wanted to show people that talent has no age limits.
The experience has given me so much confidence. You learn a lot about how to frame questions, to keep an eye on the time and also keep it entertaining. If I were to do similar shows again or interview people at any point, I'm prepared. Having that experience is very important.
Is Hollywood in your sights then?
As a toddler, when I learnt to stand, the first thing I did is dance. I had this one song I would dance to every day, and my parents saw my talent and it continued. I've always been a performer. I love dancing, I love socialising. Same with acting. I think acting is a phenomenal thing. It gives you the power to make the audience feel so many emotions - hatred, sympathy, love, care.
The prospect of getting to learn that is very exciting. I may have to learn something that I've never learned before for playing a character, but acting is a very big thing and there is a lot for me to learn. And the steps to Hollywood are very big. I’m only on the first step, but I know I can make it.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Do you think that Hollywood needs more representation of British Indian girls?
I would say not just Indians, but there should be a representation of all cultures in all types of cinema, whether it's Bollywood, Hollywood or any other industries, because I think each cinema has lots of different audiences. For example, Hollywood does not just attract one type of audience, it is popular all around the world and I feel many directors try to capture all types of cultures whether it is brown, black or white. But I feel there are still times when there is not enough cultural representation, not just brown, but also black.
I think as more people from various cultural backgrounds gather in the industry, the more cultural representation we will see.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Living in the UK, how connected do you feel to your Indian heritage and culture?
I am very deeply connected to my culture and heritage. I was born in the UK but have spent many years in the Middle East before moving back to the UK. Middle East has a huge South Asians population, so I always surrounded by my culture.
And as I said, I love dancing. And Bollywood songs have such great beats that I can't just resist myself. I've been performing to Bollywood songs in my schools. I've represented different states of India in dancing.
But the biggest credit for this goes to my mum and dad. They always put the culture in us. They have always encouraged us to celebrate occasions throughout the year. I celebrate all festivals regardless of the religion, like Holi and Diwali. That's also kept me connected with my culture.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Finally, tell us about your favourite Bollywood song and future plans.
I would say I actually have a few. Number one, ‘Sauda Khara Khara’ is always going to be my favourite. Next is ‘Dhol Baje’. It's one of my top songs. And ‘Ghungroo’.
I think all things that I’m achieving are things I'm building with the help of my parents, agents and auditioning. And someday, when I have gained recognition and I have achieved something big, what I want to do is, for all the talented people interested in acting, I want to be the person who can helps them achieve their dreams.
I think there's talent everywhere in the world. All around us. Your neighbour might be the most talented person you know. And not just acting, if someone is really good at dancing, I want to be able to help them out. If there's something that I could help them with to achieve their goals, I want to be able to do that.