Having made her debut in Arif Ali’s ‘Lekar Hum Deewana Dil’ in 2014, it has been a long and worthwhile wait for Nikita Dutta, who was recently seen in the new Netflix film, ‘Maska’. Having achieved success on television with ‘Ek Duje Ke Vaaste’ and ‘Haasil’, Nikita gained mainstream recognition with her film roles in ‘Gold’ and ‘Kabir Singh’. But with web, the actress has received worldwide visibility with ‘Lust Stories’ and now ‘Maska’.
I caught up with the promising actress to know more about her career objectives, her views on relationships and her love for food.
Alike Mallika Chopra (her character in Maska), you were born and raised in an academically sound background and you’ve moved cities across India, with your father being from the Navy. How much of Mallika is Nikita?
Nikita: There isn’t much similarity between Mallika and me as a person. Because I’ve been living in Mumbai for almost 16 years, so I consider myself to be belonging from this city. I’ve done my schooling and college from here. Also I never came to Mumbai as per my choice wanting to fulfill my dreams in the city. I lived here and eventually realized that I wanted to become an actor. So unlike me, Mallika has fought many hardships and then tried to make it in the city. It’s a very different space to be. I know a lot of people who leave their hometowns and their disapproving families to come down and make a career or a living. So I could really understand what Mallika was going through while playing the character.
What is it about Mallika that you feel you can imbibe into your personal life?
Nikita: I think one beautiful thing about her is that she is very clear-headed. Also, secondly, she is very focused. She believes that come what way she will put everything that she can to try and make it big. So that’s a very beautiful quality about her. Also, it’s because she’s in a do or die situation. Like she will not get many opportunities to prove herself. So she will fight for that one chance and when she gets it, she will make the most of it.
As you said, Mallika is very clear about what she wants and is very determined. Which is why it annoys her when she dates a guy like Rumi Irani who is such a mumma’s boy and lacks clarity on what he wants. As Nikita, would you ever see yourself in a relationship with someone like that?
Nikita: (laughs) I would never fall for a mumma’s boy. I’ve always been very attracted to people who are self-made. There are still so many of them who are happily living on their parents’ money and don’t really do much to struggle in their lives. They’ve gotten it all on a plate. So, that’s really not my category as a person. I can’t see myself falling for someone like that.
It’s funny given your work graph, whether it’s Kabir Singh or Rumi Irani, you end up getting paired opposite problematic men.
Nikita: It is. Because whatever my characters do in these films opposite such men, I would never be that in real life. I would never fall for such men.
If we can revisit Kabir Singh, a film that sparked such a long and unending debate, looking at the role of Jia, one would say that she had her own reasons to fall for Kabir. But if you ever came across a person like him, would you ever accommodate somebody like that in your life?
Nikita: I don’t think so. See, Kabir himself is a hugely loved character. I loved the character in the film. But that’s a film. It’s fiction but when you talk about reality, I’d be put off by such a person within the first meeting itself.
You started off with television and have successfully dabbled in films and now the web. Does medium matter to you as long as you’re happy with the work you’re doing?
Nikita: That’s one thing, I’ve been clear that medium doesn’t matter. Infact a lot of people did object when I started out with television. I said that unfortunately I did not have the privilege where I could immediately start through films as if there were many lined up for me. I knew nobody from the industry, nor did I have the right contacts. It’s better to grab onto what comes your way. Of course, you have to set levels of how much or what you are willing to give into. So with television, I was very clear about the roles I never wanted to do. But I never dismissed its worth as a medium. It has done some great things for me. I was very new to acting and how things work out here. Television was like a lesson for me. Three years in it have served as a great lesson for me. Hence, I’m very certain that medium doesn’t matter. You can build your craft and your audience in any of them. You have to be clear about what you end up doing and how much do your enjoy it. So, I know that I love being in front of the camera and portraying a character, That’s all the matters.
‘Maska’ is an ode to the quaint, old cafes based in Mumbai. Do you have a fond memory of sharing a great meal with a loved one?
Nikita: I do. As I said since I’ve studied in Mumbai, I would frequent a lot of these cafes that were situated close to my school/college. I would go to Parsi cafes such as Kayani or Britannia, which would offer beautiful, stomach-filling food at a budget. These would be our go-to places. So, I’ve binged on caramel custard and bun maskas at these cafes.
Do you believe that food plays a huge role in building lasting friendships/relationships?
Nikita: Of course, food plays a major role, because whenever you go out on a date, a lot of times, it’s about the food you select and the place you choose to eat, which makes the difference. Because food is such an important part of my life. I always call myself as someone obsessed with food. So food compatibility is something very crucial for me. I have to be compatible with the other person over our food habits. As friends, you need to have this list of places where you connect with and enjoy over the food that they offer.
So, if a guy was to ask you out on a date, the most expensive restaurant with a curated menu would not matter, as long as you agree with something that you’d both enjoy?
Nikita: Absolutely. Also, because I’m a very picky eater, if I have something planned at the back of my mind, I wouldn’t settle for anything if it’s not remotely close to what I want.
What’s next in the pipeline?
Nikita: Given the situation, at the moment, it’s only ‘The Big Bull’ opposite Abhishek Bachchan, directed by Kookie Gulati, in hand. Which I hope, should release in October.
‘Maska’, is streaming on Netflix, worldwide. It also stars Manisha Koirala, Prit Kamani, Shirley Setia and Jaaved Jafferi