Munna Michael's actress Nidhhi Agerwal on her acting debut, Deepika as an inspiration, and being a big Shah Rukh Khan fan – I am a '90s kid who is guilty as charged of having grown up dancing to Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Govinda's so-called tacky songs, says the actress
Nidhhi Agerwal (DNA – Ashwini Sawant)
If the snatches of Nidhhi Agerwal’s appearance (promos and song) in her debut, Sabbir Khan’s Munna Michael, are anything to go by, then the actress shows much promise. Amidst the many star kids being launched in Bollywood today, the debutante is making it without piggybacking on industry connections. All set to romance Tiger Shroff in the film, when she visited the DNA office, Nidhhi cut a confident figure and spoke about her humble upbringing and dreams.
What was your struggle period like without a godfather in the industry?
I don’t have industry connections, and moved from Bengaluru to Mumbai two years ago. The biggest struggle about changing cities was changing food habits; you don’t get ghar ka khana anymore. In terms of work, I joined acting classes, dance classes, etc, and I see that as two years of growth rather than struggle.
Are you happy debuting with Munna Michael?
I am blessed to have such a great launch pad because the script is so good. My director has been supportive, Tiger is a helpful co-star, and Nawazuddin (Siddiqui) is an incredibly talented man. What more can I ask for?
What was your first reaction when you got the film?
It still hasn’t sunk it, honestly. Sometimes, I suddenly realise, ‘Oh, the film is mine now’. Sometimes, I completely forget about it, even after I finished shooting for Munna Michael. When the posters and trailers came out, I was still happily surprised.
How many auditions did you go through for this film?
We had four rounds — for acting, dancing, meeting the filmmakers, and sending across a tape. I auditioned for a film before this, but it didn’t take off. I left two other films after auditioning because I liked Munna more, and I think I made the right choice. Munna Michael seemed to be in my destiny and it’s great because I am not in it for just five minutes, but the entire film, including songs and over 40-50 scenes.
Did you always want to become an actress?
I know it sounds like a cliché but I used to go to my room and dance in front of the mirror. I have always wanted to act, right from the time I was a kid. I have grown up on Hindi movies. I am a ’90s kid who is guilty as charged of having grown up dancing to Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Govinda’s so-called tacky songs, which I thought were great.
Were your parents sceptical about your acting aspirations?
Yes. However, I don’t think they were being discouraging, but some relatives and people around them were feeding them with things like, ‘Oh, this happens in the industry. How can you let your daughter do something like that?’ My parents trust me, so, it’s all good. Being a girl, a lot of people wonder when I’m getting married, etc. But, as long as you are doing well, everyone’s happy.
Who is that one actor you want to work with and why?
Honestly, I haven’t reached a position where I can choose who I want to work with. I hope that after Munna Michael, people notice me and want to work with me instead. But, as an actor, I love Ranbir Kapoor. I think he’s a legend of an actor but it will take me sometime to reach his level of acting.
How was it keeping up with a great dancer like Tiger in a dance-action flick?
It was extremely difficult to work alongside Tiger because he’s a terrific performer and a dancer. If in one count, we have to turn, he does two turns. Nobody can match that. It was tough, but I did a lot of rehearsals, so I hope I have matched up to him. As a co-star, he was an easy person to work with because even in his first film, he was clueless so he understood how I was on the sets. He would help me with almost everything — from standing on the mark to facing the camera and other basic things that I was too shy to ask anybody else.
Tiger can be shy. Did he open up to you?
Tiger’s not a shy, introverted guy. He’s a lot of fun and mischievous. He’s cracking jokes on the sets all the time.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My parents, I hope I make them proud. In Bollywood, I’d say Deepika Padukone. She’s so beautiful and talented, and a Bengaluru girl just like me. I used to see her and her sister quite often in Bengaluru because we were in the same school. Deepika would come to pick her sister up at the bus stop. I would just look at her and think, ‘Oh, my God! This girl is so pretty. I wish I can be like her someday’.
Have you noticed the many similarities between your and Deepika’s beginnings?
Yes, I have. We have signed the same brands, too. So, it’s kind of like sending a message out to the universe. Tiger is also obsessed with Hrithik Roshan, and coincidentally, everything just fell in place for him. I hope it will be the same for me.
Do you have a crush in Bollywood? Who’s your most favourite here?
I am a huge Shah Rukh Khan fan. He’s one of the biggest reasons why I have joined the industry. I have grown up watching and loving his films. I hope someday I will get to work with him. That’s why I keep my telling my friends —‘I want to steal SRK from Alia’.
How would you react when you meet him?
I would want my reaction to be different from what it will be when I actually meet him. I will be like, ‘Hello, Sir.’ I will just smile and later I’ll be like, ‘Sh*t’. I would want to tell him how much I like him and that there is no other guy like him.