(February 6, 2024) In March 2023, when pro-Khalistan extremists vandalised the premises of the Indian High Commission in London and attempted to violate the Indian flag, the Indian community in the UK responded swiftly. Various Indian diaspora groups got together for a spirited demonstration outside the Indian High Commission in London, showcasing solidarity with the Indian mission. Amidst the festive display of patriotism by Indians, Nick, a British police officer, was moved enough to join the demonstration in a show of support. Nick approached Indian-origin teenager Iqra Khan, who was joyfully dancing to Bollywood tunes in traditional Indian attire and jewellery to learn some Bollywood steps from her. Their interaction was captured by several onlookers, resulting in a heartwarming moment that quickly spread across social media platforms.
Within hours, the video of Iqra and Nick’s impromptu dancing garnered wide attention. “After the event when I was having lunch, someone got in touch saying, ‘your video has gone viral’. That’s when we started looking it up. I was still having lunch and my video was all over India” shared the elated teenager in an interview. In a few days of the incident Iqra’s video received global attention. “My video was on many news channels worldwide and had around 10 million views. I had no words. I was like, wow, I am everywhere,” the teenager remarked.
Despite already having launched her YouTube channel, Ten News India, by that time, the unexpected surge of attention she received was pleasantly surprising. She was happy that people around the world were looking at her. “So many people were saying that this is the best video on the internet and the fact that I was a part of it was really special,” remarked Iqra who has been a pageant finalist in the UK and has modelled for a famous retail brand.
From fame to frames
Iqra has always been in love with the camera and socialising with people. Combining both her interests, she launched her own YouTube show at the age of 11, interviewing singers, artists and poets in the age group of six to 18. Her goal behind the show was to introduce young talent to the world driving in the message that talent knows no age boundaries.
That experience gave her loads of confidence. “You learn a lot about how to frame questions, to keep an eye on the time and also keep it entertaining.” Later, building on her experience, and seizing the opportunity presented by her viral video, Iqra furthered her hosting journey with a YouTube Channel named ‘London Thumakda’. For her channel she has interviewed accomplished celebrities like author Amish Tripathi, actors Adil Hussain and Vinay Pathak, British theatre actor Tom Gribby, casting directors Yvonne Lawlor and Bonnie amongst others.
In the world of pageantry
The teenager loves the glitter and glam of crowns, tiara and the flashing cameras, and to savour the delights of all these she participated in Miss Junior Teen Great Britain contest two years back. It was a long but joyful journey for Iqra who gave auditions for the contest, and then after clearing multiple rounds was selected as a finalist, and later as the grand finalist. “It was a roller coaster of emotions,” she said.
Iqra, who can speak in fluent Hindi despite being raised abroad, felt extremely proud to represent Southeast London in the beauty pageant. “I was really proud to be representing all the brown girls and wanted to win for all the brown girls out there,” Iqra shared.
Love for Indian culture
Even though Iqra was born in the UK and lived in the Middle East for a few years before returning to the UK, her strong attachment to her Indian culture and heritage remains strong. She attributes this deep connection to her upbringing by her parents and her immersion in a large South Asian community during her time in the Middle East.
She has deep affection for Bollywood songs and finds their infectious beats captivating. “I can’t resist them,” she admits. “I’ve been showcasing my love for Bollywood by performing at events, representing various Indian states through dance,” she revealed. Performing has been her passion for as long as she can recall. She has given performances for events hosted by UK Heritage Charity and Dartford, Mayor of Croydon to name a few. The teenager aspires to be an actor, has some theatre experience in the UK and has also done modelling for the retail brand Lulu.