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Not just the Lunchbox Lady | In Conversation With Nimrat Kaur

Priya posted on 22 November

I must confess I find it tedious communicating with celebrities. It is usually a painful procedure, which makes you feel absurdly insignificant. Definitely not the case with the gracious and gorgeous Nimrat Kaur. In spite of the overwhelming attention her film “Lunchbox” has fetched, she stays self-composed and receptive. The frightful air of self-importance simply does not exist. She leads a busy life, yet you drop her a message and she is swift to respond. The interview effortlessly turns into a breezy conversation about her days in Delhi, her staunch love for theater and some personal preferences.

How does it feel to be in Delhi during Diwali?

I have lived in Bombay for 9 years. I haven’t missed a single Diwali at home. I make it a point to come down for Diwali. It’s all about spending time with family and friends. There is mithai all around and the weather is lovely. I usually try to avoid the summers in Delhi.

How old were you when you first came to Delhi? What were your initial reactions?

I came to Delhi when I was 11. As an army kid, you don’t usually live in big cities. You are usually posted in small towns or satellites towns. You come from protected environments… Initially I did have adjustments issues, but they did not last for long.

What about your days at SRCC?

I was pursuing my Bachelor’s in Commerce. While I was pretty academically inclined, I was also active with ECA. From dramatics to debating to dancing, I put myself all out there. I had a special interest in theatre. I acted in quite a few plays; one of them was a Chekov play. I also worked as an anchor to earn some extra money. By the way, I recently got interviewed by the college magazine.

I must confess I wasn’t regular to class, although I managed to fare decently. In those days, we did not have the luxury of the Metro. I used to travel from Noida on a U-special… One simply could not travel in them when it was extremely cold or hot.

Did college make you realize your passion for acting?

Umm… I’d say the seeds were always there. It became more prominent in college. College is a crucial time where one needs to figure out what you need to make your profession. I did exactly that. In 2004, right after my graduation, I headed off to Bombay.

Did you pack your bags and leave on impulse?

It is not as dreamy as people make it sound. One doesn’t just pack their bags and leave for a new city. You need to have a plan – you need to know what work you’d want to do, you need to figure out how to make money to survive there.

 How was the shift from Delhi to Mumbai?

Oh! The train journey was a long and excruciating ride. I had taken a Rajdhani or August Kranti. I was extremely depressed. It was tough leaving home. Once you get off at Bombay Central, it hits you that you are far away from your cushioned world.

You have been actively involved in theatre for a while. How has it influenced you?

I have been part of some stellar plays such ‘Baghdad Wedding’, ‘All About Women’ and ‘Red Sparrow’. Theatre is pretty much from where I have learnt my craft.  I owe it my all.

I read this really amusing piece on how you were once told to consider plastic surgery…

Yeah, even I was amused by the frivolousness. Initially, I was startled as to how a man so successful could suggest something to this extent. Later on, I started enjoying the conversation. I was young and patiently heard him out. I replied “Okay, okay I’ll keep it my mind” while in my mind I was like “You wait and watch how I fare without going under the knife”.

Many talented people usually do succumb to such suggestions to make it big, no?

I’d say one needs to be firm. It all boils down to the strength one gets from one’s upbringing… it is the values you imbibe from your family – most important is laying one’s inner foundation. And it is not about being in this particular profession… You can be a doctor and completely sell yourself out.

I dream big, I look at the bigger picture. My ambitions are not restricted to that one perfect launch film. My dreams are broad in that sense, something even I haven’t completely understood myself or articulated in my head.

What is your take on the emerging forms in film – short films etc? How open are you to experimenting with the newer form?

I’m definitely curious about them. My focus has been feature films and of course, theater. I love the camera and acting. Anything which involves that has my attention.

Enough grilling about work. Random question – Are you fond of music?

Oh yeah, definitely a music person. I listen to a lot of R&B and hip hop. I listen to different artists, no particular favorites. And yes, Hindustani Classical music. In fact I try to see some of these artists in concert.

Which was the last music concert you attended?

Girja Devi at St Xavier’s College. She is 85 years old and is fabulous.

What’s your idea of unwinding?

Spending time with my two adorable cats – Kit kat and KC. It is a mother-son pair. Besides that, regular stuff – hanging out with friends, going to the movies, catching up over coffee and dinner.

What’s your favorite poison?

Martini… extra dry. Off-and-on, a glass of wine.

How do you think Delhi has evolved in the recent years?

The Metro has been one big boon. The city has become a lot more accessible. The cleanliness standards have risen. The airport has changed beautifully. Art galleries have sprung up. You have malls with gorgeous art installations. With respect to the theatre scene, events such as META {Mahindra Excellence in Theater Awards} are being held. In fact, my play ‘Baghad Wedding’ picked up quite a few awards at META last year. The city now has these wonderful platforms for people from obscure parts of the nation to come and perform. And of course, Hauz Khaz Village has changed.

Any place you think definitely should be in a Delhiwaala’s Little Black Book?

Has to be Elma’s Bakery in Hauz Khaz Village. I make it a point to visit whenever I am here. Their cakes and coffees are to die for.

About the author | Priya Bhattacharji takes care of the programming of various Shamiana chapters, and has been doing so since 2009. She pursues this as a hobby, while working as a brand strategist professionally.