Nisha Aaliya: “Been cautious about how NRIs have been typically portrayed…”


British actress Nisha Aaliya was most recently seen in Netflix’s ‘The Girl on the Train’, playing Parineeti Chopra’s best friend’s role, but she’s been seen in a number of other roles including in theatre productions too. Having also worked on ads with the likes of the late Irrfan Khan, the actress is positively sure about the way she wants her career to go and the roles she takes on, away from any stereotypes. caught up with the actress exclusively, to talk the opportunities she’s received already and the ones she has coming up.

Your role in ‘The Girl On The Train’ came after a few recent projects such as ‘Shakuntala Devi’ and ‘Forever’. How would you describe the opportunities you’ve received in the recent few years?
The opportunities in the past few years, have each been a learning curve. I’ve learnt a great deal by working with some incredible actors and directors. I’ve noticed a trend in genres I’m being approached for which are thrillers/psychological thrillers.

What was your experience shooting for ‘TGOTT’, because the shoot happened last year, during an uncertain time?
The film was shot in 2019 – feels like a whole different life from now!

How has the last year been for you and has it reshaped any of the projects you had been working on?
This last year has been incredibly tough, but in times of adversity comes the best growth. I remember back in March 2020 I was worried what the pandemic meant for actors and the entertainment industry, but it found a way to survive and mould itself to the current times. I’ve had an increase in brand TV commercials this past year which I’m very grateful for.

You’ve been working with some very talented actors. Who do you think you’ve personally learnt the most from?
I’ve learnt a bit from every single actor and director. From Vidya Balan, Parineeti Chopra, Kirti Kulhari to Irrfan Khan, Ribhu Dasgupta, Anu Menon and Raqesh Bapat, I have mainly learned how to keep calm amongst the beautiful chaos on every film set. It’s a very important skill I believe.

As Women’s Day and Mother’s Day earlier this month, along with a turn of events regarding male violence against women in the UK, how would you like to make your mark in the industry going forward, focusing on the kinds of roles you would like to play?
I’ve been cautious about how NRIs have been typically portrayed in Bollywood in the past, and I’ve been blessed to have done roles that don’t match the stereotype. A lot of my work has been alongside strong female leads and productions. I’ve workshopped a few fair scripts over the pandemic with a team of female writers whose stories defy the typical roles a south Asian woman would play in society. I hope that through my work, I can show all the shades of a woman – be it the girl next door or a kickass action powerhouse. I enjoy the versatility.

You mention that playing strong female characters is something of importance to you. How do you personally define the kind of strength you’d like to play?
Be it physical strength through action and martial arts, or mental strength highlighting how much grit we truly have when under pressure or having gone through something traumatic. To play the ‘perfectly imperfect‘ characters who are not defined by their sexual orientation.

You’re in a career that many aspire to get into. How would you describe the motivation you’ve had on your journey?
I think there are many things that inspire and motivate me. I love the art form of acting, I love dance. I am motivated to create a path for others that also may not have come from a film background or who may not feel confident to take the leap into this career because it may not be considered a ‘normal career’. If I can be on this journey, so can many others.

What would you tell you 16 year old self, in terms of career choices, from the point that you are in now?
I would tell her not to overthink and worry – she’s not carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. To enjoy her childhood with friends and be OK with who she is. She is unique, she doesn’t need to pretend to be anything else to fit in. And to probably choose the Arts as subjects to study.

What have you personally found yourself being drawn to in terms of entertainment content in the last year?
I love psychological thrillers and sci-fi and Fantasy as film genres. I’ve increased watching web series content, a few examples Made in heaven, Four more shots and She. Disney plus has some great content on there and I’ve always been a huge fan of Marvel – so yes, I may have done a few marathons of the Avengers. thanks Nisha Aaliya for taking the time to talk to us.

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