Nikhila Vimal says she has been living in a “safe zone” till now. Life changed when she was offered to play the lead role in Sreebala K. Menon’s maiden film, opposite Dileep. And now with nearly a week to go for its release, Nikhila is keeping her fingers crossed. Although she isn’t a newcomer, Nikhila has butterflies in her stomach. “I am not tense, but, yes, there is some kind of anxiety,” says Nikhila over the phone.
Sharing screen space with some of the big names of Mollywood has unnerved Nikhila, who made her debut playing Jayaram’s sister in Sathyan Anthikad’s Bhagyadevatha . “ Balechi [Sreebala] was the associate director of Sathyan sir in Bhagyadevatha and she had told me about this role long ago. Since I knew her well, I just couldn’t refuse her. Even my family agreed to me doing the role because it was her film,” says Nikhila who hails from Kannur.
The movie about the life inside a newsroom has Dileep playing Roopesh Nambiar, a news anchor with the channel, Nalamidam. Nikhila plays Kabani, a trainee reporter who falls for him, she says without going into the details of the storyline.
Other than Dileep, the movie has Sreenivasan, Suhasini, Sasi Kumar, Lena, and Shankar Ramakrishnan.
“When I was given the role, the other actors weren’t fixed. It was a couple of months before the shoot that Balechi told me that I was acting opposite Dileep. I didn’t know what to say. And then there was this line-up of experienced actors. So, except for the director I didn’t know anybody on the sets. It took me a couple of weeks to get over my nervousness because I acted with each of them on separate days. So I didn’t get enough time to get over my fear and tension!” she says with a laugh.
There was hardly any preparation for the role but she was advised to have a look at the mannerisms of female news readers. “But the toughest part was dubbing. My character is based in Thiruvananthapuram. So I was expected to speak the Thiruvananthapuram slang, which is totally different from my Kannur slang. Also, in the dubbing studio I just couldn’t laugh like how I did in front of the camera!” she says.
It was dance that opened the gates to tinsel town for Nikhila. Daughter of classical dancer Kalamandalam Vimala Devi, she took to dancing at a young age and was active in the youth festival circuit, taking part in Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Keralanadanam, monoact and other items. It was through a family friend that she got the role in Bhagyadevatha .
Prior to that she had acted in a documentary on Saint Alphonsa that aired on Shalom TV.
Passionate about dancing, Nikhila never nurtured dreams about becoming an actress.
“My elder sister Akhila is a huge film buff and I used to see all the good movies with her. Other than that, I have been more interested in reading up facts and snippets of new releases and upcoming movies. Bhagyadevatha came as a surprise, but I was too young (she was in her Class VIII) to explore the nuances of acting then. After that I did a Tamil movie Panjumuttayi , but was never really planning to make a career out of films. In fact, I wanted to concentrate on dance and was aiming for a government job! So playing a full-length role that too with established actors was not an easy affair,” says Nikhila, who is currently pursuing her undergraduation in Botany at Sir Syed College, Taliparamba.
So now has her priorities changed? “I don’t know. I can’t say anything until the film releases. I am just wondering what my friends will say when it releases. I don’t know how people will react when I step out…” she signs off.
Cinema: I love tear-jerkers and clean comedies. I enjoyed movies such as Thirakkatha and Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom .
Actors: Kamal Haasan and Shobhana
Fashion statement: None. I am forever seen wearing salwars.