SURREY – Vancouver-based model-actress Mannu Sandhu will be playing the main lead in a new Punjabi film featuring Bollywood legend Dhamendra Deol to be shot in the US.
Sandhu tells the LINK she will play a North American girl who doesn’t really know much about her cultural and religious roots. A Punjabi guy falls in love with her but she doesn’t accept him because he is too ‘Desi’ for her.
“Over time , an incident occurs in her life which makes her change the way she thinks about her own identity and realizes that she’s an Indian in North America,” Sandhu said.
Sandhu’s interest in the arts began at the age of 14 when her family moved from Chandigarh, India and settled in Vancouver, BC where she completed her high school studies.
Throughout high school, Sandhu was always actively involved within her school environment—helping to organize school events and various charities. After high school, she started to model on the side and continued to be an active participant in her community by helping out at all major election campaigns with the conservative party in the lower mainland.
Upon graduating high school, Sandhu worked as an executive assistant for Member of Parliament–Nina Grewal, which eventually led her to pursue a career as a correctional officer. She moved to Victoria, BC to finish her training and later moved back to Vancouver where she started to work as a full time Correctional Officer.
Sandhu has always expressed a strong desire to get involved within the arts and through modeling was able to build a foundation and network with industry-related individuals. She was a finalist in the Miss B.C. pageant in 2009 and placed 1st Runner Up in the Miss Moella Canada Beauty Pageant in 2010.
While working as a Correctional Officer, Sandhu is often exposed to young men and women who were brought into the facility as a result of negative actions, such as drug and alcohol abuse, gang affiliation, weapon possession and assault. Feeling disappointed as to where the youth of her community was heading she often felt like there was something missing.
“I want to change the way women in our community and around the world are mistreated and one of the ways to get this message across is through the media of film and television and that’s why I decided to train in film and television and continues pursue acting and modeling on the side,” Sandhu said
Sandhu competed in Miss Universe Canada 2011 and placed top 16 on the panel. She also won Miss Universe Canada 2011 Humanitarian Award for raising the most funds for SOS Children’s Village to build three computer centers in Nicaragua.
She starred in her first Canadian feature film “Footsteps into Gangland”, which looked at child sex abuse. She signed two feature films back to back making it her 3rd feature film in less than 2 years. Her second feature film was the Punjabi film called “Saadi Wakhri Hai Shaan” directed by Gurbir Grewal (previous hit Mannat). She has also finished the yet to release ‘Maple Heart’. The film touches on various subjects of abuse, sexual, mental issues and other internal issues that can be the result of alcohol within the family household and ultimately the choices it leads us to make
Sandhu looks up to Hollywood-Bollywood actresses like Vidya Balan and Angelina Jolie for their willingness to take on bold roles in the cinema. She looks forward to working with directors and producers who are willing to give her a chance with roles that demand different characters and personalities. Working as a Correctional Officer in the Canadian Prison System has opened her eye to so many different personalities, characters and also their emotions.
“Majority of the population in the prison suffers from mental health issue and are often neglected by their families and thrown in jail,” she said.
“Learning their firsthand experience with the society and their families is sometimes very heartbreaking. I feel those characters never get recognized or shown on screen to showcase the real problem and how public can deal with such personalities.”
Sandhu also devotes her time to various charities and non-profit organizations such as: BC Childrens Hospital, Sikh Blood Donation; Pakistan Flood Relief, Salvation Army, Operation Canada and Mannkind Charitable Society where she and her team members travel to Baru Sahib Himachal Pardes, India every year for their mission to help children born with facial deformities.