Shreyas Mehta is a Dubai-based actor.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Model-cum-actor Shreyas Mehta, starring in the American reality TV series “Love Without Borders,” exuded confidence, unique screen persona, character depth — and won the hearts of millions of audiences across the globe. But he was helped in his role by another special feature: he embodied the multicultural spirit of Dubai. Bravo TV’s “Love Without Borders” featured him on a blind date with the show’s participant from the US. Their relationship, against Dubai’s sociocultural backdrop, was central to the show’s narrative and ultimately, its appeal. Born in Mumbai, the “City of Dreams”, Mehta grew up around its booming entertainment industry.
Though acting and modelling came naturally to him, he chose to underpin it with academics such as an undergraduate degree in mass media and post-graduation in fashion design. While India’s entertainment capital fuelled a dream for him, it was Dubai that provided a platform to realise it. He first worked for Twenty4, a fashion brand, where he honed his skills, learnt the ropes of the industry, and did well in the Buyer role, picking up accolades — such as the Tassel Designers Award 2013 — along the way.
He featured in major fashion weeks such as IIJW and before long, caught the attention of Bravo TV — and became one of the first Dubai-based actors to land a major role in an international TV series. Today, he is working on the launch of his own fashion label, a product of his diverse cultural experiences spanning Middle Eastern, Indian and Western design influences. The Dubai Boy who dares to dream fashions his answers to Gulf Today’s questions
How is it being one of the first Dubai-based actors to land a major role in an international TV series?
It is a surreal feeling, unlike anything I have felt before. I believe my prior experience in acting and modelling contributed to my chances, just as my own life story as an Indian expat finding his feet in Dubai did. While I wear the distinction of being one of the first Dubai-based actors to feature in an international TV series as a badge of honour, I remain equally rooted in Dubai’s multiculturalism, which qualified me for the role.
How has Dubai impacted the Dubai Boy’s identity?
I have lived in Dubai for over a decade, spending my formative years here. So, my identity has been shaped largely by the social milieu of the Emirates. I felt obligated to paint a true picture of Dubai — how the city, beneath the glitter and glam, is anchored in a strong sense of community, interfaith harmony, and collective growth.
What makes Dubai one of the most desired launch pads for creative ventures?
Dubai’s charm as a launch pad boils down to its global diaspora, with an array of preferences. So, there is a market for even the most unique and eccentric of ideas. As a testament to that, many startups in emerging segments such as Web 3.0 have found traction in Dubai. The city is a proverbial melting pot, conducive to new ideas and their growth.
Let us know about the prospects of the fashion and modelling industry in the UAE.
I believe the culture here places great value on self-care, personal grooming, constant betterment, and appearance. Dubai now boasts a class of newcomers who are breaking conventions and interpreting global trends through the prism of local sartorial traditions. Such dynamism will soon position the emirate as a fashion capital in league with Milan and the like.
Please elaborate on the fashion label you are launching in Dubai.
In collaboration with my sister Gauri Mehta and brother-in-law Yogi, and under the umbrella of the UV Group of companies, I’m launching a fashion brand called FlashMob Nation at the upcoming Fashion Week. This men’s and women’s label will draw eclectic influences but with a purpose-driven, stand-out aspect. We are sourcing premium-grade fabric and designing apparel that caters to specific purposes, including but not limited to work, gym, travel, and party.
Tell us about the ‘Love Without Borders’ story.
Its premise revolved around blind dating, cut across geographical and cultural lines. Two people are matched and given three months to live together, explore compatibility, and strike a chord. I was matched with Gurleen from San Diego, U.S., with whom the relationship strained due to a lack of compatibility. Midway into the three-month period, I was matched with Gabby Garcia, with whom I connected at a higher level, developing a strong friendship. Despite the show ending soon, we continued to stay in touch, even meeting again in Dubai with our respective families.
Was it difficult for an Indian to work for a US show set in the Middle East?
No — quite the opposite actually; I felt so much in my element, as I was in Dubai and filming in familiar locations. The security and police authorities ensured smooth shooting in outdoor settings.
What are your suggestions for budding actors in the city?
Channel your strengths on the right avenues and platforms, such as social media. Platforms can connect you to the right people and opportunities without geographical limitations. Additionally, I suggest enhancing one’s skillset, especially linguistic abilities that correspond to certain character requirements in international TV series and movies. In my situation, the ‘Dubai Boy’ identity made a compelling case. Embrace your true identities, build on them, and opportunities will knock on your doors.
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