When this little girl from Galle, Sri Lanka, landed a leading role in Deepa Mehta's Water, little did she know that she'd soon be headed for the Oscars. Jayani Sarala, who plays the role of child widow Chuiya, was hand-picked by filmmaker Mehta, who calls her find "a natural actor". Surprisingly, the student of Galle Sanghamitta Balika Vidyalaya doesn't speak either Hindi or English and worked diligently with a translator on the sets. Now she is set to create history by walking the red carpet at the forthcoming Academy Awards and becoming the first Sri Lankan to make it to Hollywood. A surprise package indeed.
Nicknamed "Puppy", Ravi Bopara of Essex is another cricketer of Indian origin who has made it to England's World Cup squad. This 21-year-old "surprise inclusion" is all set to wield the bat in West Indies. Son of Charanjit Singh Bopara, an Indian who moved to London in 1967, Bopara will become the second Sikh to play for England, after Monty Panesar. Will this all-rounder be able to cast his magic spell?
Riddhima Kapoor Sahni might have had no Bollywood dreams but she sure has designs on the Capital's party circuit. The daughter of yesteryear stars Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, Sahni launched her fashion label Ara, which means ornament in Persian. The clothes designed with friend Devyani cater to party-goers. "Delhi has no places where you can pick up fun clothes off the rack," she says. On the anvil is an expansion plan, and with a pretty mother like Singh, she needn't look very far for a model, right?
Her rendition of Kajra re propelled her back into the limelight. Now songstress Alisha Chinai will play judge on Indian Idol's third season along with Anu Malik and Udit Narayan. "I was quite surprised when Sony approached me. I've never done anything like this," says Chinai. How about working with Malik given their turbulent past? "We will work professionally," she says, adding that what she's worried about is her tell-it-as-it-is attitude. Here's India's answer to Paula Abdul.