English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Forget Ertugrul, Kashmir’s own Gazi comes in Bollywood blockbuster ‘Brahmastra’

Budgam boy Gazi Rouhallah makes it big in mega-hit Brahmastra

Mehmet Bozdag’s Turkish historical fiction and adventure television series “Diliris: Ertugrul” was a phenomenal hit on OTT in Kashmir through the Covid period of 2020. Promoted among others by the then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, the period film was on Ertugrul Gazi, conqueror Osman’s father and founder of the Ottoman empire in Turkey.

“Ertugrul Gazi”, which came on Pakistan TV months after the abrogation of Article 370 in the Indian Parliament, became a household name across the valley. Some saw it as an attempt to revive the Islamic adventurism, loosely reminiscent of the atmosphere of rebellion triggered by Moustapha Akkad’s 1981 superhit “Lion of the Desert”– an epic on the Libyan political hero Omar Mukhtar in which Anthony Quinn played the stellar role.

“Omar Mukhtar”, screened at Srinagar’s Regal Cinema, played a key role in changing Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s image from a crusader-hero to a sell-out villain. It paved the way for an unceasing insurgency in Kashmir which got a trigger from the rigged Assembly elections in 1987 and a boost from the guerrilla training camps and Benazir Bhutto’s firebrand speeches in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

However, the steam of “Ertugrul Gazi” proved ephemeral. The people in Kashmir enjoyed it as a Covid pastime, made memes on Gazi and forgot the hero very soon.

Two years on, Kashmir’s own Gazi is shining in the Bollywood blockbuster “Brahmastra”– the Rs 410 crore budget film which crossed global collection mark of Rs 300 crore in the first six days. Directed by Ayan Mukerji, Brahmastra has a galaxy of 9 producers including Karan Johar and Ranbir Kapoor. It stars Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Mouni Roy, and Nagarjuna Akkineni.

Drawing inspiration from stories in the Hindu mythology, the film follows Shiva, an orphan with pyrokinetic powers who discovers that he is an astra, a weapon of enormous energy. He attempts to prevent the strongest of the astras, the Brahmāstra, from falling into the hands of dark forces that share a history with him.

Thirty-four-year old Indian supermodel Gazi Rouhallah of Budgam plays Raftaar, a henchman of Junoon (Mouni Roy) who aims to conquer the Brahmastra and release Brahma Dev from captivity on an island. Junoon in dark sets out on the assassination mission with henchmen Raftaar and Zor.

A resident of Budgam township and the son of a junior employee of the government’s Public Works Department, Mohammad Kazim Lone, Rouhallah is a product of the local madrasa ‘Jamia Babul Ilm” who passed his 12th standard from Government Boys Higher Secondary School Budgam. Through a competitive exam, he got the job of a Medical Assistant in the Indian Air Force (IAF) which he quit in Bengaluru immediately after he was noticed and roped in by the country’s top model groomer Prasad Bidappa. Bidappa introduced Gazi on the ramp in Bengaluru in 2009.

Shuttling between Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, Gazi got big breaks from the country’s top fashion designers like Sabyasachi, Christian Louboutin, Shantanu and Nikhil, J.J. Vallaya and others.

By the year 2015, Gazi flourished as India’s super male model and the most in-demand face for various luxury brands. His signature beard, lean and muscular physique set the ramp ablaze, every time he got down to the business.

Gazi grabbed the spotlight after the Raymond advert. All the top fashion shows in the country began having Gazi as the male showstopper.

From hanging around the streets of Budgam and giving fashion tips to his friends, Gazi created a niche for himself when he starred in his first Tollywood film Sankarabharanam. Many in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh still recognise him as “Saleem Bhai”, his character in the Nikhil-starrer film. Since then, there has been no looking back.

And all of this recognition for a boy who had not been inside a theatre for the first 20 years of his life.

There has been a blanket ban by the militants in Kashmir on cinema, fashion and modelling since they crippled the government authority in December 1989. Attempts to open three theatres by Farooq Abdullah’s government in 1998 failed as there was a grenade attack on Regal and an encounter at Neelam cinema.

Now owners of the famous Broadway Cinema have constructed Kashmir’s first multiplex in collaboration with INOX. It is expected to be inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on the National Cinema Day which has been deferred by Multiplex Association of India from 16 September to 23 September.

“Modelling and acting were my passions from my school days but I had no exposure, no handholding, no godfathers. I set out with full dedication and determination. On account of my talent and hardworking, I was introduced to the Bollywood top notch including Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Shilpa Shetty, Priyanka Chopra and others. They all gave me love, respect and exposure. Now that I got a role in ‘Brahmastra’, I feel elated and hugely encouraged by the reviews”, Gazi told INDIA NARRATIVE.

“Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon held two workshops with me as they wanted me in a role in “Raabta”. But I was dropped at the eleventh hour. Thank God, I got a role in ‘Brahmastra’ which I needed badly to fulfill my dream”, said Gazi whose ambition is to work with Hollywood. “Sankarabharanam” was my first and the last film in the South. Brahmastra is my first in Bollywood but my destination is Los Angeles”, said the model-actor with a substantial portfolio.

Gazi with Aishwarya Rai once appeared on the cover of “Conde Nast Traveller” but in Kashmir he was first noticed in Raymond campaign. “It was released during a cricket match between India and Pakistan. It was on TV after every two minutes. Till then, nobody here recognised me”, Gazi added. In the 2012 film “Agent Vinod”, he appeared briefly in the hit song “Pyar ki pungi” with Saif Ali Khan and Mallika Haydon. “It has been a tough journey on a rough track but now I see a big hope”, Gazi said.

Gazi is a down to earth actor with no assistants and PR support. “When Brahmastra was released for all-India screening on 9th of September and my director and producers wanted me in Mumbai, I was harvesting paddy at home. I had another commitment with my sister but tomorrow I am flying back to Mumbai”, Gazi said.

Also Read:  With inauguration of  first multiplex in Srinagar, cinema is back in Kashmir after 33 years