Lights, camera, action!

Paisley-based dentist Seema Luthra has added appearing on the big screen to her CV

20 October, 2021 / indepth
 Will Peakin  

Born in Glasgow, when Seema Luthra was nine, her  parents decided to migrate back to New Delhi for a few years. “It was a huge cultural shock for me,” Seema recalled. “But I soon started to warm to the city.” Her Hindi improved, she developed an interest in cricket, and she became a “huge” Bollywood fan.

“I fell in love with the glitz and glamour of Indian cinema and secretly dreamt of, one day, being in Bollywood,” she said. Seema and family moved back to Glasgow when she was 12 and she focused on her studies and sport, playing tennis competitively for a local club and winning tournaments.

Her family’s medical background steered her towards a career in medicine or dentistry. “I always loved going to the dentist as a child and had a really good experience as a patient. I enjoyed science at school and after completing work experience with medical and dental professionals,
I chose dentistry.

I got the opportunity of a lifetime

“At Glasgow Dental Hospital, we were lucky to be able to treat patients pretty early on in the curriculum which was a great learning experience. Not having a break in the summer like all the other students was definitely the downside though! As a new graduate, my focus was on gaining as much experience as possible within the NHS whilst carrying out different courses to enhance my skills. I always knew
I wanted to provide sedation as this was something I was fascinated by at the dental hospital.”

Seema graduated from Glasgow University in 2010 and carried out her VT training in Edinburgh, before moving back to the west coast and taking up an associate position at Kelburne Dental Surgery, in Paisley, in 2012. Her interest in treating anxious patients led her to complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Dental Sedation & Anxiety Management and has since become an Accredited Supervisor for the mentoring of dentists in Conscious Sedation.

Seema is also an Enhanced Practitioner in Domiciliary Care and has trained in Facial Aesthetics. In addition, she is Liaison Officer for the Greater Glasgow & Clyde Local Dental Committee, which involves running different CPD events for GDPs. And now, she’s in the film business! “Living in India as a child, I used to go to the cinema every week with my family to watch the latest films and would learn all the dance moves off by heart. Secretly, I always wanted to be involved in the industry but when I moved back to Glasgow my focus turned to studying and my career.

“Then, during the first lockdown, I saw an advert on social media from a casting agency looking for extras for a movie, Bellbottom, the first Bollywood movie to be filmed and released during the pandemic. It was being shot in Glasgow, so I completed the application and shortly after received an e-mail to say I had been successful. My first day of filming was at a location in Springburn where I was an extra in a chess scene with the Bollywood superstar, Akshay Kumar.

“It was an exciting day, and I was very grateful for the opportunity. I then joined the agency and to my amazement, was offered another day of filming at Prestwick Airport to play airport ground staff. This time, I got the opportunity of a lifetime when the assistant director picked me to have a scene with lines with Akshay. I was in shock. I was star struck and missed my cue the first time. However, Akshay was very encouraging and supportive throughout the shot.”

Seema was not sure her scenes would be included but, on its release, she received a text from a friend to say she had seen her. “We went to watch it together at Cineworld and they cheered me when they saw me on screen,” she said. “It was quite a moment!”

Seema continues to receive offers from the agency, but dentistry takes up all her time. She and her colleagues are working hard to clear the treatment backlog caused by the pandemic and Seema has also started mobile sedation for practices in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“The remobilisation has been very challenging,” she said. “The enhanced PPE, fallow times and reduced patient numbers have created a new normal within dentistry. Going forward, the future of NHS Dentistry in Scotland is uncertain, and it is important that we remain united as a profession.” Seema is looking forward to a break, a holiday abroad, hopefully. I’m also looking to focus more on my mobile sedation across the central belt and, of course,” she added, “take part in more acting.”

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