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Full of beans

Nikita has not allowed her ‘not-so-happening' film career to dampen her zest for life. The actress shares with P. Sujatha Varma the secret of her ‘never say die' attitude

Photo: Raju V.

Bubbling with enthusiasm “I am lucky to be still around”.

The great purpose of life is to live it and Nikita Thukral is doing exactly that. For this Punjabi girl born and brought up in Mumbai, success is not the key to happiness but happiness is the key to success. “If you love what you are doing, you will be successful,” is her mantra.

The Punjabi kudi who is learning a little of all south Indian languages thanks to her nine-year-long association with films down South, is returning to Telugu films with Apartment, a suspense thriller, after a year-long hiatus.

In the city recently to campaign for ‘Lux Dream Girl', a reality show to discover a new face to be cast opposite Telugu film hero Manchu Vishnu in his forthcoming project, Nikita comes across as an easy person to talk to.

As we enter her hotel room, we find her make-up man running a brush around her face. “Make it very light….it's only a college visit,” she tells him quickly running a comb through her straight soft tresses. Our photographer gets into action but she pleads not to shoot before she is done with the make-up. The actress had been going around city colleges to interact with girls as part of the hunt for a pretty face. Nikita will anchor the reality show.

Content with life

She gets restive when informed that there are more colleges to visit. Turning her chair to face us with a “Yes…I am ready”, she suddenly asks her assistant in Telugu: “ inka entha college undi (‘how much' more college is there instead of ‘how many more colleges are there?'). And almost immediately she declares that her Telugu has improved a lot.

A mere reference to Hi, her debut film, is enough to get her crackling zestfully. “It all happened at Sun-n-Sand hotel when Rama Naidu sir walked up to me and asked if I would do E.V.V. Satyanarayana's film. I was just 17 and was doing plus two. The best part of the film was shooting in foreign locales. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Language was a major problem. But I slowly managed it,” she chirps.

“ Nuvvu po……elli coffee teesuko” (‘go and get yourself some coffee' instead of ‘go and get some coffee') she directs her staff in yet another proof of her Telugu language proficiency.

She talks with great passion about her other projects like Sambaram, Kalyan Ramudu, Don, Saroja and Chintakayala Ravi. Though reduced to playing second fiddle or a very brief role, Nikita seems to have cracked the code to contentment. She doesn't wallow in despair but finds happiness in counting small blessings. “I feel I am lucky to be still around. Look at many other heroines of my times who had a great launch with top heroes of the industry but vanished as one-film-wonders,” she says.

The actress who has the art of pleasing without effort, doesn't believe in harbouring unrealistic expectations. “I have taken a lot of risk in my career by trying different roles. In Don, I played a role with a negative shade. Just look at my face and tell me if you can imagine me holding a gun in my hand,” asks the 27-year-old lady with great deal of innocence.

She pursued an MA in economics aspiring to be an advisor in stock market. Was there any opposition from parents against her film career? “My father said ‘never let my head hang in shame' and I have always kept that in mind.”

Nikita has acted in 33 films in all south Indian languages. About the year-long gap in Telugu films, she explains: “I was busy doing Kannada films. I am very popular in Kannada film industry where I have acted with top heroes like Punit Rajkumar, Darshan and Upendra.

Her father's death a couple of months ago has made her more mature. “It kind of served as a reminder that life is too short. I want to make the best of it and I want all the happiness in the world for my mom,” she says emphatically.

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