Student of cinema

In the limelight for Miss Lovely,actor Niharika Singh talks about discovering cinema after leaving Mumbai.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Published: January 2, 2014 12:25:37 am

A life of a gypsy is what Niharika Singh aspires for. Her life in showbiz and Mumbai — during which she was crowned a beauty queen,dabbled in modelling and acted in films — lasted nearly a decade. Then one day,just like that,she packed her bags and left the city. Ever since,the model-turned-actor has made her home in Dehradun. This move has somehow freed her from career concerns and helped her turn footloose. “Artistes lose their creative edge once they move to a city. Why can’t I live in Dehradun and be an actress?” says Singh.

She was back in Mumbai to attend the first look launch of her film Miss Lovely. She was put up at a cosy service apartment in the city,away from the hustle-bustle of the film world. “This is homely,unlike hotel rooms. Yet,this is not home,” she says. Miss Lovely — which was featured in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival 2012 — directed by Ashim Ahluwalia,is finally ready for its run in theatres. When it releases on January 17,the viewers will have a peek into the seamier side of the ’80s cinema. It will also give Singh — who plays the character of a struggling actor — her first formal theatrical release. “I am not Pinky but I know her. There are so many girls who change their identity and keep trying their luck to succeed in the film industry,” says Singh.

During the time the movie was made in 2009,Singh was very frustrated. After winning a beauty pageant,she signed a 10-film deal with the late filmmaker Raj Kanwar. None of them were made. However,director John Matthew Mathan and T-Series helped her wriggle out of it when they made A New Love Ishtory with her. This project too ran into roadblocks. It never had a theatrical release even though it was aired. All these left Singh disappointed. But,today she appears content. “Maybe I was not ready for it then. Today,I am more aware about cinema,” she says.

While the cast of Miss Lovely was basking in the attention that it was getting at Cannes last year,Singh had a strong realisation: she did not know much about cinema. “For years,I went through the entire rigmarole of watching all Friday releases. But I discovered ‘cinema’ only when I went to Cannes,” says the 31-year-old.

With the film travelling to a number of international festivals,she got a chance to travel and watch some of the best movies at these events. To “educate” herself further,she enrolled for a Film Appreciation course at the Film and Television Institute of India,Pune. She has also included watching world cinema into her daily routine. Just before the interview,she splurged on DVDs of 20 such titles.

Now,she plans to join an international film studies course. This is a calculated move by the actor who has been a sort of drifter so far. Singh started modelling while she was still in school in Dehradun and dropped out of the Bachelor in Commerce course at Lady Sri Ram College,Delhi. To experience a different life,she shifted to Mumbai and tried her luck in commercials,music videos and films. “Yet,I engage with cinema much more today than I ever did while living in Mumbai,” says Singh,who often takes off on treks in the Himalayas or

yoga retreats.

But has the love for world cinema and the hills,weakened the lure of acting? “No,” she says,“To be an actor one does not have to live in Mumbai.” Happy over the interesting projects that Hindi filmmakers are helming today,she expects some of them to come her away. “I have always loved acting even when I was not an actor,” she says.

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