Award-winning actress Alfeeya Donna is many things. A restless soul, enigmatic one might call her. ‘Discovered’ by none other than the illustrious Prasad Bidappa, who’s launched careers of innumerable household faces we see each day talking to us through our television sets and staring at us from billboards, Alfeeya was catapulted into the world of modelling while still pursuing her higher studies. Just when you’re thinking you’ve heard or read this story many times before, she surprises you with a twist. Her journey is anything but typical.
“One day I flew down to the city that never sleeps and began to work for a company co-owned by Harbhajan Singh… Yes, the cricketer!” She chuckles. “I was part of a team that was managing the sponsorship for cricket series, including the IPL.”
From then on, and unto this day, Alfeeya’s life has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride. While focusing on a thriving digital marketing business called MCN Digital, she shot her first feature film, ‘Jihad’, that opened to accolades and standing ovations in countries far and wide, and if that wasn’t enough, her singing voice was immediately noticed by music industry bigwigs like Mika Singh and Sajid Khan.
“My brother Nawaz, who’s a rapper, took my mother and I to meet Mikaji. He had just recorded a cover of a popular English song. When listening to the song, Mikaji’s first question was – Who did the female parts? I raised my hand quite coyly. It surprised me when he praised my voice and even suggested I take up singing professionally. I mean, I’d never given it any thought before. In fact, Mikaji even presented my first single ‘La Illaha Illallah’, an Islamic song that’s doing quite well on YouTube!”
Coming back to her film, ‘Jihad’, one sees her eyes light up again. After all, it does take nerves of steel to make it in an ever-evolving film industry with no hand over her shoulder. Shot in Kashmir, the film was officially selected at over 70 film festivals including Berlin, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and London and has, to date, won 58 prestigious awards for best film, best actor and best actress. Of these, 31 awards were won by Alfeeya alone! Further, after a 2018 screening at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, Alfeeya has rightly found herself in international waters, swimming with the big fish. Not too shabby for a debut, right?
Jihad, an unapologetic and pathbreaking drama handles the issue of terrorism in Kashmir, portrays not just the external stuggle, but also the internal one between a zealot and a vulnerable woman who share a common past. Alfeeya, who has earned her acting degree from the prestigious New York Film Academy, plays the role of Bhawna, a middle-class Kashmiri Pandit whose husband is shot by terrorists. As it so happens, Altaaf, one of the terrorists responsible for widowing her, ends up taking shelter in her home during one of his missions. Powerful scenes unfold between the two leading to a metamorphosis on Altaaf’s part and closure for Bhawna. An otherwise glamorous Alfeeya, slips perfectly into her role as the deglamorised Bhawna, surely not an easy task for a debutant. Not one to shy away from challenges, Alfeeya also spent time in Kashmir with the locals before the schedule began learning the nuances of their accent and mannerisms.
As the praise continues to rain in, for Alfeeya, the businesswoman, it’s another day at work as usual. Her company MCN Digital has just received the official YouTube Gold Creator Award for it’s popular and fast growing ‘Bollywood B Town’ news channel which recently crossed 1 million subscribers. This, by the way, is her company’s 36th YouTube Award!
“What’s next?” she rolls her eyes upward, “Definitely more acting and singing. After the success of my single ‘Do Hisse’ with music composer Prateek Gandhi, we’re recording another song together… and wait… there’s another song next month with Mika Singh. Based on where these lockdowns take us, you might see me on screen very soon. I’m really hoping to land a few good roles in commercial and indie feature films and webseries!”