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In Conversation with Nikkitasha Marwaha - A Journey from USA to Bollywood

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In conversation with Nikkitasha Marwaha, a gorgeous Indian American, a former beauty queen and an exceptionally talented dancer now making her debut in the Indian entertainment industry.In this tete a tete Nikkitasha talks about her journey from USA to Bollywood. Was it smooth or was it filled with obstacles? Read on...

 
 
 
How would you introduce yourself to our readers...Who is Nikkitasha Marwaha?
Nikkitasha Marwaha is my global persona, as an actress, dancer, model, and professional emcee. It's a name I one day hope will become a brand in itself. But, Nikkitasha has a bunch of nicknames: Tashu, Nikki, Nikster.
 
The girl holding the nicknames would say: Hi! I am a person in a journey to fulfill my passions! Passion of reading daily, listening to great music, crying and laughing over legendary film scenes, and spreading the love amongst my family and friends. So I am basically like you, with many passions and perhaps too many emotions! 
 
The underlying similarity between my global self and homely self is the fire to live my dream of breathing entertainment in all its forms. I want to remain involved in Indian arts till my dying breath, and I have only just begun my first steps into becoming a well-rounded performer.   
 
 

 
What made you join the Indian entertainment industry and not try out Hollywood even when you were born and brought up in USA?

The fact that I was so physically far away from the Bollywood industry is one of the reasons I was drawn even more strongly to it. I grew up in a very Indian environment -- I was a student at India International School throughout my middle and high school years, where I learned Indian Classical dance Kuchipudi from Guru Saikantha Raparla, Hindi from Mrs. Madhu Maheshwari ji, and many other forms of art and literature of India. I hosted a TV show "Image-in-Asian Television" that exclusively covered Indian entertainment news. I even performed with DC's most prestigious Hindi theatre groups, Pravasi Kala Manch and Natya Bharati. And it didn't end there. My love for Indian dance and arts continued into my time at Northwestern University where I remained involved in its Indian dance teams. Being so close to my culture, I naturally found my passions in its beautiful language and heritage, all the while finding an identity as a proud individual American. 
 
Bollywood films are to this day the biggest driving force for my decision to choose Mumbai. I always found joy in their music, dance, emotions. I participated in shows like Chalo America Boogie Woogie National Competition, hosted at prestigious Indian events, and partook in the two of my life's biggest opportunities, Miss India Worldwide 2009 (which I won as Miss India USA 2008) and Zee TV's Dance India Dance Season 2 (in which I placed Top Ten as the USA Contestant). I realized I had the potential to entertain and express myself in the Indian medium. I made the big move to Mumbai so that I could delve into that potential full on. When I received my role in 24, there was no looking back because it reaffirmed my faith in myself. 
 
In no way have I turned my back to the Hollywood industry though. The industry in LA thankfully has no age limit to success, whereas Bollywood has its restrictions -- and even those as being readjusted considering the flux of new ideas and roles in Bollywood films. I am giving an honest try in India, and maybe by the time the wrinkles kick in, I would have wet my feet in LA too. 
 
 
 

 
Indian parents in America most of the times push their children to be academically strong...How did you convince your parents to let you choose a career which has a lot of uncertainties?
 

My parents did not have to push me to be academically strong because that was a standard I placed for myself. I never had to convince them to let me choose as well. Instead, my parents had to convince me! They instilled in me the courage to follow my calling when I was doubting myself. They urged me to follow this line of entertainment while giving me the freedom of choice. I thank them for helping me reach a new potential with each passing day and for giving me one of the biggest gifts for inner-strength: the belief that uncertainties are something we can tackle together if we work hard and genuinely.
 
 
 

 
How did "24" happen, Tell us something about your character  and  How was the entire experience?

I had been vying for roles in films and commercials for a solid year before I entered the audition for 24. Although many great opportunities came by and I fulfilled those roles, it was my role as the assassin Mehr that has given me the most exposure as an actress in India. Mehr is a killer who is detached from her victims, seeing as she kills off nearly 200 passengers in a plane blast before escaping by parachute! She completes any task given to her mainly for the money. She uses her sensuality as a trap, which proves deadly for another character if you watch the very first episode of the show.
 
I am extremely lucky to have been directed by Abhinay Deo in this project, and I thank him for placing trust in me to play this role. The experience I received on set, the feedback, and the working environment among the crew and cast have opened my eyes to what it takes to make a successful TV series or movie. As an actor, I learned how to work under pressure and with concentration. I am happy I was able to be a part of Anil Kapoor's vision of a game-changing TV show for India.
 
 
 

 
How difficult was it to adapt to the Indian lifestyle when you were living in India? Did you ever face any difficulty with the language?

I am grateful for my experience of "Dance India Dance" because I stayed in India for six months due to the show's requirements. I dealt with all the culture shock of language lingo, food, schedules, traffic, weather changes, and living difficulties in this one show. It made me strong and opened my mind to the lifestyle and mentality of the citizens in Mumbai. When I made the long-term move to India as an actress, I was already adjusted to some point. 
 
I am well versed in Hindi, so there is no gap of communication between me and the people I come across in Mumbai. I do face small difficulties with some very traditional Hindi words, not to mention trying to fix the slight American accent that comes in my Hindi speaking abilities. Nonetheless, I try my best at auditions. When I receive the call confirming any role, then I make sure I do my homework to give the project's director his or her requirement.
 
 
 

 
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I hope to be more knowledgeable about film work. I hope to have performed something that touches the heart of Indian audiences. I know how the work of any one actor has affected me. I wish to inspire another little Nikkitasha out there, even if it takes a lifetime.
 
 
 
A message to the Indian Americans who are growing up in USA and aspire to join the entertainment industry?
Everyday is an effort to excellence, and with diligent hard work, all youngsters entering any industry will certainly reach heights. I am only at the beginning of my journey, and I thank everyone who has been watching my steps, given me hope and wished me well. As for my identity as an Indian American, I feel our community's individuals are the best combination of East and West thoughts. So let's make our parents and each other proud!

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Pritha's picture

.. about this article is the note on the Indian parents in America.. as a new parent myself I know I will incur the wrath and disdain of many coz I am not gonna push my daugther to do Kumaon, and all taht jazz.. jsut do her simple public schooling and be all she can be at each minute with other productive pursuits.. you are a shining example.. GOD BLESS...

Pritha Lal

As a parent....

I loved it that your parents showed you the sky and taught you how to fly confidently....
The sky is your limit, girl... and you proved it...
" They instilled in me the courage to follow my calling when I was doubting myself. " is a powerful statement from a child....and I loved it as it echoes my call too!

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