Srinagar: Surrounded by criticism and discouragement, Nelofar Sheikh proved that dreams do come true and became the first Kashmiri woman to be a part of an International film.
With no former education in acting, the actor who won was praised for her International feature film 'Valley of Saints', started her career into acting when she was in the fifth standard.
"I always wanted to be an actor but was not able to get good guidance from anyone. Then in 2000, when I was in the fifth standard, I met theatre artist M K Raina and with him, I started off my career with my first television show 'Mapping Kashmiriyat'," said Sheikh.
Nelofar, who hails from Aloocha Bagh said acting in Kashmir was challenging for her as she had to convince her family at every stage who seemed unhappy with her decision of perusing a career in acting.
"Convincing my parents was a big challenge for me. They were unhappy with my decision and my mother was the one who refused permission. But after pleading a lot and motivating them to let me pursue my happiness for acting, my mother finally agreed," she said.
After struggling for 10 years, a big opportunity finally knocked on her doors where she was selected for the lead role in the film 'Valley of Saints' under the direction of Kashmiri origin US filmmaker Musa Syeed.
"I was on cloud nine when I got a call from the team that they had selected me for the lead role. I had lost all hope that why would a production team cast a newbie in the industry who is still learning, but later on that call changed my life," she added.
The story of 'Valley of Saints' revolved around a young tourist boatman at Dal Lake essayed by Gulzar Ahmed Bhat who runs away from Kashmir and eventually their escape gets derailed by a military crackdown. The boy later encounters with a young scientist Asifa essayed by Nelofar and how the boy falls for her.
The first film set in the endangered lake communities of Kashmir, it blends fiction and documentary to bring audiences inside this unique world.