Talking to Nidhi Singh feels like catching up with a classmate after the summer break in a college canteen. Because such is the conversation—freewheeling, spirited and oh so candid.
The 30-year-old from Allahabad did not always know that she wanted to act. But she did figure it out pretty early in life – in Class 9, she says.
Adored by the millennials for playing Tanya in the widely-loved web series Permanent Roommates, Singh has just finished shooting for two Bollywood feature films.
From working in the advertising industry, as an assistant director, breaking the internet with her portrayal of Every Delhi Girl in the World, to being the darling of the web space and now doing films, Singh’s has been quite a journey.
Here, she talks about her upcoming movies, her experience of working on Permanent Roommates, what she hates about Mumbai, and much more.
You have just wrapped the shoot of two films. Tell us about them.
The first one’s a posh romantic comedy called Makhna (the title’s not final yet) in which I am starring alongside Saqib Saleem and Taapsee Pannu. It’s a fun film—very real, contemporary and young. Though we’ve not fixed a release date yet, it should come out sometime this summer.
The second one, Brij Mohan Amar Rahe, also has actors Arjun Mathur and Manav Vij in leading roles. It’s a rustic dark comedy, more of a satire.
Beyond stoked ! @arjun__mathur @manavvij @nix_bhat 🙌🏻 #Repost @arjun__mathur with @repostapp ・・・ Finally joined #OnSet by this talented duo. @nidhisin of the extremely popular #PermanentRoommates and @manavvij of "I ate #UdtaPunjab for breakfast". Also seen is our amazing #DOP, #PoojaGupte. #LetTheGamesBegin #BrijMohanAmarRahe #BMAR #SaReGaMa #DrishyamFilms
How did you parents react when you first told them that you wanted to act?
My mum’s a teacher and my father a doctor. So initially they couldn’t understand where my love for acting came from. Also, I was a teenager then. But they listened to what I had to say. I was after their life to let me go to Mumbai. After initial reservations, they finally let me. I was 17.
Have you ever had any doubts about the feasibility of your ambition to be an actor?
Of course, I did, which is why I did not dive into it head on. It was a gradual process for me. When I started out, acting was just an idea in my head that I was excited about. In my college, every third person I met wanted to be an actor. It was extremely unnerving. It still is.
What is the most satisfying thing about doing Permanent Roommates?
The acceptance that I have got from people. I’d been around a long time before Permanent Roommates happened. And the city is filled with talented people. Fortunately for me, it happened to me at the right time and in the right way. The audience has been very accepting and kind. I still do not know how to behave around fans. The entire experience has been overwhelming.
How is working on a film different from working on a web series?
It is very similar in terms of the discipline and the amount of hard work involved. But with different locations and the number of people on the crew, movies take a shorter time to make.
You meet new people with every new film. It’s like going to a new class each time — you’ve got to befriend them, create a rapport. In a web series, since you are working with the same people over the seasons, you get to understand each other and develop a familiarity. It’s more like working with friends.
The one thing you do not like about acting.
Set ka khana has to be good. It can make or break your performance (laughs). But seriously, it’s extremely challenging to be two people at the same time—who you are and the one you play on screen. Sometimes you are different from your character. To play a part convincingly when you do not believe in it can be stressful and daunting.
And Mumbai? What do you not like about the city?
Mumbai is so my city. But the traffic here…it’s endless. I feel like I’m always stuck in traffic.
Other than acting, what are the things you love to do?
I am a passionate cook. I love calling people over and feeding them. I can watch films all day without any food and water. I also love making random art and craft things and gifting them to my friends. And I am crazy about animals, in a way not many can understand.
If you had to choose just one film, which would you pick as your favourite?
It has to be The Bridges of Madison County. I was absolutely smitten by the book. And then I found out that they had made it into a movie, with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t have asked for more or anything better.
(As Nidhi talked, she reminded me of the time I first read the book. I was a teenager then but the haunting love story has been with me ever since. I also vividly recall forcing my friends into reading it. Her passion for the book mirrors my own. I smile, now knowing that I am not the only one. It’s a good feeling.)
The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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