"I feel quite lucky because not everyone gets opportunities like these."
In the UK, Sonia Gill is a civil servant, but in India she is the Bollywood star of five blockbusters and a beauty of the big screen.
The 27-year-old spends part of the year working at Oxfordshire County Council, in a regular 9-5 job where she is part of the Blue Badge team and issues parking badges to people with mobility restrictions after processing their applications.
In complete contrast to this, Sonia spent last December shooting her latest movie in Punjab, India. The romantic comedy, titled Arsho, has just been released in the UK.
This road to stardom began when a model scout spotted photos of her on Facebook while she was still a Law student at Buckinghamshire New University in High Wycombe. This led to her modelling in Asian bridal magazines.
Then at the age of 22 she was offered a role in the Indian film, Let’s Play the Game, and flew to New York and New Jersey to start shooting scenes.
On her return to the UK a few months later, Sonia was invited to be in television adverts and fashion shows in Mumbai before appearing in her next film, Society Kaam Se Gayi (2011).
Sonia says of Society: “I saw people that I had grown up watching. That was a really good experience for me.”
Her part in Society was followed by offers to start in Hole Hole Ho Jayega Pyar and Shaadi Ke Side Effects before she decided on her latest project, Arsho.
She says of her career: “I feel quite lucky because not everyone gets opportunities like these. I feel lucky because I’m enjoying my life and I’m happy.”
Despite her success, Sonia has remained down to earth, and to avoid being away from her family full-time she joined a job agency local to her UK home in Rose Hill.
She has been working in the Blue Badge department as a customer service advisor since January.
Indeed, Sonia herself says: “I usually go to India for six months and do a lot of modelling and acting and the other six months I’m usually here because my family are here.”
Incredibly, on her latest trip to India, whilst shooting Arsho, Sonia also learnt Hindi: “I did it in a couple of months. I just converse with the locals but I still have a British accent so that works against me.”
When she’s not jetting to India, Sonia leads a normal life in England, and her council colleagues have been unaware until now of her fame in India, where she is recognised frequently by fans.
Sonia lives in her family home in Rose Hill, with parents Prem, 60, and Meena, 55, who moved to England from India in their teens, and sisters Bobbie, 38, and Monica, 31, and brother Roger, 35.
Arsho was released internationally on June 13, and the Indian romance is set to be another marker in Sonia’s career. Keep watching, as you should be seeing Sonia Gill on a silver screen near you very soon!