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Banita Sandhu

Banita Sandhu

Actress and mental health spokesperson


Banita Sandhu (English Literature with Film Studies, 2018) is a British actress, who landed her first big role while studying at King’s. Before graduating in the summer of 2018, she made her feature film debut in October, a critically acclaimed Indian coming-of-age drama.

Born and raised in Caerleon, south Wales, to second-generation British Indian parents, Banita is of Punjabi descent. Banita started acting at the age of 11. She appeared in various television advertisements, getting her big break during her first year at university when she was offered high-profile ad campaigns for Vodafone India and Wrigley’s gum.

During her second year at King’s, Banita made headlines in Bollywood when she was offered the role of Shiuli Iyer in director Shoojit Sircar’s Hindi-language October opposite Bollywood star Varun Dhawan. The film garnered widespread rave reviews, with Banita receiving praise from the notoriously difficult-to-please Indian film industry. Critics cited her performance as ‘outstanding’; she was nominated for a prestigious Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut and was named ‘The Face to Watch Out For’ by Vogue India.

Labeled one of the biggest up-and-coming stars in Bollywood, Banita went on to act in the 2019 Tamil movie Adithya Varma as well as the Hindi film Sardar Udham, in which she plays a mute Punjabi girl who witnesses the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. She has also starred in the US science-fiction series Pandora and in the leading role of Kavita and Teresa, a British film production on the life of Mother Teresa.

Banita has opened up about her depression diagnosis and how she has been dealing with it since she was 18: ‘It’s something I will always battle and live with but, because I really worked on my mental health with therapy and the support around me, I am much better equipped to handle it now.’ She uses her position to raise awareness about mental health issues and has been a guest speaker at events such as the launch of the UK Asian Film Festival report on reimagining the arts for good mental health for south Asian and Bollywood artists.