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The “Greek Goddess of Bollywood”: Elli Avram

Greek Bollywood Elli Avram
Elli Avramidou has conquered Bollywood. Credit: Bollywood Hungama/CC BY 3.0/Wikipedia

Greek actress Elisabet Avramidou Granlund left her home in Sweden at the tender age of 21 to move to India to become an actress in Bollywood. This is quite unusual, one might say, as the immigration route for most people is almost always the other way around.

Yet, she had a wild dream; she wanted to go to exotic India and become a movie star in glamorous Bollywood. This is perhaps not so wild, however, if one knows that she is the daughter of a musician and an actress.

“Elli Avram” – Granlund’s new Bollywood name – was born on July 29, 1990 in Stockholm to Jannis Avramidis, a Greek musician of Pontic descent, and acclaimed Swedish actress Maria Granlund, who played in Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar-winning film “Fanny and Alexander.”

From a very young age, Granlund was fascinated by Indian music and the colorful clothes in Hindi films. In fact, she even found similarities between the Greek music her father was playing and Indian melodies. By the time she was a teenager, she was buying Hindi movies and immersing herself in the exotic Bollywood magic.

Meanwhile, the young actress was receiving acting lessons from her mother and her aunt, who also run a theater. At the age of seventeen, she joined “Sundbyberg,” a Pardesi dance group that primarily performed Bollywood songs.

A year later, she acted in the Swedish movie “Förbjuden Frukt,” (Forbidden Fruit), a crime drama in which she played the lead character’s girlfriend. At the age of 20, Granlund appeared on the Swedish TV series “Gomorron Sverige (Good Morning Sweden).”

Moving to India’s Bollywood and stardom

In September 2012, the Swedish-Greek actress made the bold move of visiting Mumbai with the aim of pursuing an acting career in Bollywood in fulfillment of a wish she had since she was a 14-year-old girl.

She soon managed to get a work visa by signing up with a modeling agency. It didn’t take long before her face became known, as she starred in several television commercials. However, Granlund came to real prominence after participating in the Indian reality TV show “Bigg Boss” in 2013.

From that time on, it was a straight shot all the way to the top. Granlund became the Bollywood star she had wanted to become ever since she was a little girl.

Although she didn’t speak the language and had the wrong accent, her dancing and stunning looks helped her get parts in the films “Mickey Virus” (2013), “Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon” (2015), “Naam Shabana” (2017), “Poster Boys” (2017), “Naa Peru Surya, Naa Illu India” (2018), “Bazaar” (2018), “Fraud Saiyaan” (2019), “Paris Paris” (2019), and “Butterfly” (2019).

The “Greek goddess of Bollywood” does not forget her roots

All her films, as well as her frequent appearances in galas and shows, caused industry executives and audiences alike to begin calling Granlund “The Greek goddess of Bollywood.”

Yet, Granlund remains down to earth and never forgets her Pontic roots and her family back in Prochoma, Thessaloniki. As she told the Proto news website, she visits her Pontian grandparents every summer and is very proud of being of Pontic descent.

“If I don’t visit Prochoma every summer, the year is not going well for me. My mind is full of pictures of my grandmother and grandfather, who were talking to me about Pontus and its traditions. This is where my heart truly is,” she told Proto Thema.

Despite all the fame and glamor, the actress says that what she really wants is to finally settle down with a Pontian man: “I want to marry a Greek man. In fact, I want to marry a Pontian man. This is what I want, and I mean it.”

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