Niharika Konidela, niece of actor-politician Chiranjeevi, has always wanted to be in films. “I was anchoring a show for sometime in Telugu, but eventually, I knew I wanted to venture into films; it’s there that my heart lies,” she says.
The actor, who made her debut in Tamil cinema with last week’s release, Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren (ONNPS), is all praise for the cast and crew. “I was not treated like a debutante at all. There was so much warmth and respect on the sets,” she says. She singles out Gautham Karthik for special appreciation. “I never thought he’d be as unassuming. As I am not fluent in Tamil, everyone including Vijay gaaru (Vijay Sethupathi) spoke in English around me,” she smiles.
Despite her lack of Tamil fluency, Niharika says she has some exposure to Tamil cinema. “Everyone in my family speaks Tamil because they’ve stayed in Chennai. We shifted to Hyderabad the year I was born. Now that I have done a film, I am looking to improve my Tamil-speaking skills. I am serious about doing films here,” she tells us.
On why she chose ONNPS, Niharika elaborates, “Usually, heroines in Tamil cinema have little to do on screen, but I found my role both entertaining and interesting. Throughout the narration, dad (Telugu actor Nagendra Babu) and I kept laughing. My character gets plenty of visibility in the film, and in fact, the story revolves around me.” The young actor had many new experiences, being part of this film. “For instance, I got to wear some heavy jewellery. It was totally new,” she says. “What was difficult was wearing black outfits while shooting in Talakona forests under the hot sun!”
The actor, who runs a production house (Pink Elephant Pictures) in Hyderabad, is also interested in the technical aspects of filmmaking. “One thing that I learned from director Arumugakumar sir is to stay calm and composed. He was always cool, managing both direction and production, even if I was nervous about my lines.”
Niharika makes sure she discusses scripts with her father before finalising them. “He had asked me not to sign a film once, and I signed it anyway. The film bombed at the box office,” she laughs.