'I am always attracted to whacky characters': TVF's Nidhi Bisht
One of the key members of TVF (The Viral Fever), the originally Delhi girl, Nidhi Bisht wears several hats - actor, writer, casting director and director and has worked on web-series like TVF Pitchers (casting director), Permanent Roommates (assistant director), Bisht, Please! (writer and actor) and PA-Gals (writer and director). Besides, she has also done small but engaging roles in films like Phillauri, Umrika and recently released Dream Girl that saw her playing ‘Pooja ka aashiq no 3’ (third lover of Pooja), a call girl played by Ayushmann Khurrana. As Nidhi returns with another web-series, Cubicles, which takes a candid take on the life of millennials who are ready to dive into the corporate world and sees her playing the sarcastic tough mentor, Indulge caught up with her for a chat. Excerpts:
Dreamgirl hits Theatres today! Aaj se Pooja aur hum sab huye aapke Dekho Dekho!! Thank you @balajimotionpictures @ektaravikapoor @ruchikaakapoor @karan_mally @nandinishrikent @writerraj for “Roma” :)) It was a dream to work with these fabulous bunch of actors, @nushratbharucha @oyemanjot @actorvijayraaz @nowitsabhi @rajbhansali92 & #AnuKapoor sir : All the best to us And our Dreamgirl @ayushmannk you are one incredible performer!! so much to learn from you both on and off screen! Thank you #Dreamgirl #NowInCinemas
Q: You have studied from Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi and have pursued a career as a litigation lawyer, how did acting happen?
I always wanted to be a part of the industry. Bollywood happened to me very early in life. My brother and I would mimic actors in our childhood but I also had that Three Idiots’ scene at home where my father wanted my brother to be an engineer and me to be a doctor but since science stream wasn’t my cup of tea, I took humanities and then he suggested me to do law. But, during my school and college days, I would actively participate in theatre and was a part of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA). After graduation, I had applied to FTII but couldn’t get through and then dad asked me to take up a job hoping that once I would start earning, I will forget about my ‘passion’. Then I started working, I was a proper litigating lawyer and was working under Pratibha Singh, who is now a High Court judge. I was doing a play which had a lot of former IITians and I would wonder what would have been the tipping for them to quit what they were doing and pursue their passion. During another play, Shit Happens, I realised that my tipping point has come and I went to my dad and told him that I want to go to Mumbai and I came here.
Q: From the thought of pursuing acting to actually doing it and surviving in Bombay, how did you go about it?
My father had clearly told me that I have two years to pursue my passion and after those two years, I should be earning enough money as any law firm would pay me. So, I came to Mumbai and started teaching drama to kids in a drama school while working with some theatre professionals. In Mumbai, I had to roam around and soon I realised that I will have to create opportunities for myself. So, I directed a play, Who Let The Dogs Out and where I met some fabulous people who are now the stars of the digital platform. Slowly one thing led to another and I got introduced to the people who were working at TVF and it was in its early stages and I was the only girl they knew so I started getting all the roles written for a woman and now it has been 10 years in Mumbai.
Q: You wear so many hats at TVF, which one do you enjoy the most?
In the beginning, I was wearing several hats and I am good at fitting in. At my home, in my wardrobe, I have kept all the hats and depending on the need, I put one on. For instance, if anyone wants to come over for a creative jam, I put on my writer’s hat. If someday I get a really interesting script which excites me to direct it, I take on that role and as I said, acting is my first love. I think I am a chameleon that way (laughs).
Q: Coming to your first love, you were really liked in Dream Girl. It was an out of the box character. How do you go about picking roles outside TVF assuming it is relatively convenient within TVF considering it is like your home ground?
Yes, TVF is like my home ground. Whatever I have done and learnt over the years is because of TVF and I have established a certain comfort level where if something sounds interesting, I can approach the makers behind it and ask them to test me for that role but I am really choosy when it comes to my roles in TVF’s web-series. Outside TVF, all the movies that have come to me, I feel there is a set expectation because they have seen my work and know that I can do this. For example, before I was even offered the role of Roma in Dream Girl, the makers had already decided that they wanted me. And, I was really excited to be in the cast especially because I have grown up watching Anu Kapoor and Vijay Raaz and Ayushmann is such a great person to work with and then there was Balaji Motion Pictures onboard.
Q: When you say people come to with a set expectation, do you feel being stereotyped?
Now, after Dream Girl, I will be able to understand whether I am being stereotyped or not. So far, I feel there has been this comfort that she will fit well in this role because they have seen me doing it and that gives them assurance because people outside aren’t as daring.
Q: And, what is it that you look for in a role?
If I see a role which looks challenging or is whacky or bold, I take it up. It happened with Cubicles as well. When I read the first draft, I absolutely loved the idea and pestered Amit Golani, the creator, to audition me for Megha as she is like coconut, tough on the surface and soft from inside.
Q: You have been a part of the web since it was in its nascent stage. How do you see the medium now?
The good thing that I’ve realised is that there’s a lot of work. The other day I was talking to a writer friend and she’s booked until October next year and it feels great to hear that a writer has so much on her plate. The same is happening with actors. When we started out, it took time for people to realise what the medium has to offer and now, film stars call us because we have a wide reach. And, even films have taken their work seriously.
Q: What was your first brush with stardom? When did you feel that now you are famous and probably you can’t take the local train now?
I still take the train whenever I have to go to South Bombay but people do make you feel weird as they start noticing it and you know that they are noticing you. Interestingly, I have a dog named Lali and she keeps me grounded. The other day, I took her for a walk and she pooped in the street. I was picking up the poop with a piece of the newspaper when two aunties crossed me and said that they liked me in Dream Girl. And I was there, picking up the poop and thanking them at the same time.
Q: Your favourite project so far.
Right now, I am really excited for Cubicles. Besides this, I really enjoyed writing, acting and directing Bisht, Please! And, obviously, you can’t take away Permanent Roommates.
Q: Lastly, do you think that web series are now taking the Bollywood route?
In any medium, this commercialization is bound to happen but even the stars have the realization that content is the king and they can’t fight it, which I think is great.