February 2024: My success in Romania didn’t matter, I had to forget of my past achievements and hustle again: Iulia Vantur

It’s not common that someone leaves his or her well established career to move to a different country, all new, and press the restart button of life all over again. It needs courage, belief and a lot of hustle to create a fresh identity, devoid of any past achievements. This is what Iulia Vantur has done and its commendable on how she has made a name for herself in two countries, Romania and India. We had a candid conversation with her recently for our February 2024 Digital Cover. Here are the excerpts:

How do you look back at 2023?

I have recorded many songs and we will be shooting music videos for them at a right time. I was working on the docu-series called ‘Beyond The Stars’ which took a lot of time from my schedule. I have been travelling for shows which has remained a focus area for this year (2023) in many ways. The year overall has been quite busy for me in general.

How was your experience performing in IIFA?

The experience was amazing, I had performed with Sukhbir. He comes with such a great energy, is one of the first few artists I heard about when I was in Romania, yet so humble (despite his immense popularity). I really admire him, and we just met again in Dubai for a catch-up. Audience has always been very encouraging at IIFA having performed there twice so far!

Romania is a very buzzing music industry. Being from Romania, how much have you been engaged there?

I was a news anchor in Romania with PRO TV and had my own news journal. From there, I went on to co-host Dancing With Stars (Dansez Pentru Tine) for 8 years (14 seasons), the biggest show of that time across Europe, originating from Romania. I was the host of a show by the name The Farm, which is very similar to Bigg Boss and my responsibilities were very much similar to what Salman Khan does in the Bigg Boss. Having done hosting for about 18 years overall, I could not focus much on the singing side of my art back home. Having said that, I have performed in musicals in theatres. But musicals are different in terms of treatment and experience put together. Its only after I shifted to India I began working on singing projects. Doing riyaz, working on songs, perfecting the vocals gives such a joy on a daily basis to me, I don’t feel that I am working, it is just an organic part of my life now.

Is there a plan to get a song out in your native language, Romanian?

Without revealing too many things, I would say that we are working on a song which has a very beautiful message. It is a song which is very close to my heart as it has a connect with mothers. There is another song with oriental vibes, so yes there are some songs in Romanian which are underway.

How are Romanian and Indian cultures similar and dissimilar in your experience?

One thing that is stand out common is the respect for family in both countries. Having said that, here in India, a considerable amount of time is spent with the families which may not be the case back in Romania. This helps you to find more stability, strength and courage to go through challenging times in your life. This is something I really appreciate and that people in India have been able to maintain this culture is admirable. People in both countries like to dance and sing, it seems dancing, and music is in the blood of people here.

Tell us about ‘Beyond The Star’

It’s a docu-series about Salman Khan’s life and journey. His life has been a rollercoaster ride and there is so much to know, learn and experience. The docu-series is a series of interviews taken by me, capturing the life of Salman Khan from the lens of the people who are close to him. This includes people who are in his core team, family, closest friends, people he has learnt from, people whose life he has influenced, co-actors, directors and so on. It’s made with a lot of heart and is incredible in the sense of the story itself. It was a concept built during lockdown when we needed some inspirational stories and there was nothing better than Salman Khan himself who has inspired and continues to inspire millions! A big thanks to the team of Beyond The Star, each and every team member has been exceptional and this docu-series came to life due to their incredible support and belief in the concept.

Your journey itself has been challenging, coming to India, completely new culture, new people and so on. What has been the most memorable part of this journey so far?

For me, the most beautiful part of this journey is the people I have met along the way. People in India are very warm and friendly and that’s possibly the biggest aspect for the country. They gave me the most beautiful moments, was able to learn from them. I was able to connect with people with similar energies and build it ground up for me. Having said that, if we talk about one particular incident, it has to be my first live performance at Stardust Awards. It was the first time I could see biggest of the biggest names like Amitabh Bachchan Ji, being introduced by none other than Shah Rukh Khan, and so on. It was a very nervous moment, as with such a big stage and in front of so many legends, its either a make it or break it moment for anyone. After a while though, I just ended up enjoying the moment and it all went well.

What were your earliest brushes with Indian cinema?

I used to watch Indian movies when I was very very young, one of my all-time favourite movies is ‘Yaadon Ki Baraat’. I have watched some of the very old movies, which are considered legendary, the ones of the black and white era too. Late Mr. Raj Kapoor was a fabulous actor and a great looking person who had an impact on me. These imprints built a natural association of mine with Indian Film industry in general, from a very young age. There was series, ‘Sandokan’, a very popular one in Europe, featuring Kabir Bedi. He was my first crush, and I had a chance to eventually meet him on my birthday! His charm, the person he is, everything about him is impeccable for me.

What is your key to success?

Whatever you do, do with your complete heart into it. There is a lot of hard work, desire, willingness to face challenges and willingness to sacrifice that goes into becoming successful. Additionally, you have to be very strong mentally, emotionally and physically to go through this tough journey.

Where do you derive your strength from?

In India, I discovered that I am stronger than I thought of myself to be. I felt like I grew up more in India. Romania had everything in place for me, I was known, and I had achieved quite a few milestones. Then I came to India, where no one knew me, about my career so far and had to start from scratch all over again. My success in Romania didn’t matter here, I had to forget of my past achievements, cut the ego out of my system and hustle again. Initially I did feel the freedom of being unknown, but with time, one starts questioning the image that was built of oneself, the value that was attached to that image and then that’s all gone. There are obvious thoughts of about who am I? Re-evaluating myself, strengths, qualities, weaknesses, etc. was a great process for me.

Tell us about some of your collaborations of the past

Working with Himesh Reshammiya was so easy. It was a great atmosphere and go-with-the-flow approach from him. I recorded twice with him and when we go to the studio, we have no idea of what is to come. He composes the song while you are on the mic. Your lyrics are being done as you go ahead with the composition and it’s a surreal process to see the song coming through right before your eyes. I have worked with Honey Singh, a legend and G.O.A.T. of Hip Hop. The video shoot was exhausting as well as exciting at the same time. Working with Honey Singh was a great fun and so was with Guru Randhawa, an immensely talented artist, with who I toured USA! I have been blessed to work artists like Vishal Mishra, Palak Muchhal, Manish Paul who have established a close bond with me as friends too.

What is that one thing that keeps driving you forward?

I think one thing that I have had in me since childhood is curiosity. I like to explore a lot facets of life and myself. Having done TV, shows, acting, singing, dancing, musicals, etc., I get a chance to find my own craft in various spaces. With all the things that I have in my life, I think now I feel I have found my calling, performing on big stages, live!

Well, curiosity has quite been her strength as it has led to Iulia become one of the very few celebrities to have a successful career in two distinct countries. As we look to know more about her upcoming work, we already have a feeling it is going to be amazing! Keep reading about her, keep listening to her song, watch her live, that’s about it 😊

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