a DEWSBURY-based Indian actor has just played his most unusual part: teaching Hindi to former Hollyoaks and I’m A Celebrity… star Gemma Atkinson.
What’s more, he carried out the crash course in a mere six days as Miss Atkinson prepared for her role in the Bollywood movie Fever.
Yusuf Sultan, of Thornhill Lees, was approached by a production company to carry out the daunting task – but both teacher and pupil passed with flying colours.
He said: “Gemma did fantastically well to pick it up so easily. She was a very quick learner and very professional.
“To start with, I wrote her lines out phonetically, so she could concentrate on how to pronounce them.
“Once she knew how to do that, we worked on translating and understanding the words, then we rehearsed the lines so she could start to put the emotions – anger, humour, fear – into the part.
“As soon as she’d finished with me, she flew over to Switzerland where the film is being shot and, I’m told, got straight into the part.”
Yusuf is no stranger to learning a script himself, having played dozens of film and television roles since studying drama at Bradford College, the British Asian Theatre, in London, and Bradford Playhouse.
He has appeared in The Bill, League of Gentlemen, The Knock and Children’s Ward, while his big-screen credits include a fight sequence in the 007 blockbuster Octopussy and several Indian movies.
He is also an experienced theatre performer and more recently established a production company, Multi Angle, which has made corporate videos for Yorkshire businesses and local authorities.
However, Yusuf confessed that few of these assignments proved as stimulating as his language tutor interlude.
He said: “It was a truly wonderful experience. I found Gemma to be not only a nice person to work with but a fine actress too and I will definitely cherish such an experience.
“I think she has a great future in Bollywood, Hollywood and the UK – anywhere she chooses to work and I wish her well.
“My friends in India have been asking me ‘how on earth did you teach her Hindi in just six days?’ I tell them that’s my secret!”