By Sheetal Paknikar | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 23, 2019
Niharica Raizada is not the normal actor you will meet. And Niharica Raizada is not the normal medico you will meet either. Heavens! An actor who is a medico (and vice-versa) can be a potential hazard. And a ‘pretty’ one at that!
For a young and vivacious girl, Niharica will strike you as almost another pretty face— unless she decides to share with you her tremendously humane insight about life and ‘accidental’ brush with tinsel town. Sounds scripted? Writers reading this: could this be a basic character sketch for a sequel to ‘Life in a Metro’?
Sans make-up, dressed in a de-stressed jeans and a white tee for our tête-à-tête one breezy evening, Niharica kept alarmingly true to her background as a qualified cardiology scientist with extremely thoughtful and precise analytics on why she is what she is and what makes her a strange but alluring fit in the world of Mumbai and Bollywood. If you get distracted by her dimples and infectious laughter, you could just ignore her mind that has a wish-list for an ideal world with impish intelligence and downright honesty.
Opening Doorz to the Total Dhamaal actor who will once again be seen on the screen next month.
The Wonder Years
Born in beautiful Luxembourg, a quaint and tiny country of castles littered with bountiful nature in Western Europe, it is not surprising that Niharica appears to be nature’s child. Amongst her early memories as a child, and there are a lot of them, is her first stage performance as a Bharat Natyam danseuse at Saarbrucken, Germany, at the mature age of five! She fondly remembers ‘running away to play the marathon’, ‘dancing with the guitar’ and ‘playacting the choir’. Honestly, it is that long that Niharica continues flitting in and out of various roles that she plays—in real life. Amongst her other early memories is taking the lead to choreograph Hrithik’s Kaho Na Pyaar Hai at age 11 and her first grand (official) theatre show in Luxembourg, at 16. Today, reel life excites her enough to reflect on the odd roles that she has played in films like Warrior Savitri, Baby and Masaan to name a few. Total Dhamaal is one that could just get her noticed in the mainstream.
Lineage of Business and Music
Armed with a family of Intellectuals and highly qualified business professionals, Niharica was never away from a career in the sciences. However, she attributes her immense urge to explore the arts that is now shaping her destiny. Fluent in several languages—French, Luxemborgish, Spanish, German apart from English, and Hindi, she credits her amazing years in Scotland, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg for her multi-faceted persona.
Disarmingly matter of fact, she reminisces the time she first discovered that one of the soulful music compositions that she kept humming as a teenager was the creation of Music Maestro O P Nayyar—her Nanaji (Maternal Grandfather). Apparently, it was only after her mother explained her lineage to her that Niharica realised she had ‘genes’ that could help chart her journey to stardom.
Smitten by India
This one is right out of a script again—Niharica accidentally found herself cheering for Team India on that World Cup April night in 2011 when MSD deposited the winning six in the stands. There is a great back story here that ranges from Beauty Pageants, helping market film production in Europe and the tough times in Mumbai living alone as a single woman. As she partied with the Indian team in their celebrations that night, she experienced her true calling: a life of stardom in India.
Scientist, Dil Se!
Niharica graduated in Translational Medicine from the Imperial College, London, no less. Picture this: a young student medico, living in London, gaping at Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan at the Royal Albert Hall. This impacted her enough for her current status as an actor scientist and a scientist actor! Back to the present: with an impressive research abstract exploring ‘Redo Cardiac Surgery’ that she presented at a Seminar in Mumbai in November 2018, not many would know that Raizada is currently the HOD of Research at the Asian Heart Institute and Research Centre at BKC. Though she is absolutely clear to give the credit to Dr. Panda for relenting to have her on board; and of course her colleagues who are justified in thinking of her as a crazy boss who is hardly there in person on duty—she is professional enough to keep tabs on her department research progress, remotely crisscrossing between her films and other interests.
A for Ajay; B for Blunt; C for Clear
An unabashed fan of Ajay Devgn, one of her co-stars in the upcoming film Total Dhamaal, Niharica recollects her fantastic days in London. As a ‘Miss India’ UK First Runner-up, she found herself gradually exposed to the British Asian ‘bollywood’ media and one thing led to the other, enough to groom her for a career on the silver screen. Then there was a stint with the New York Film Academy where she ‘formally’ brushed up her basics for a career in front of (and maybe behind) the camera. Niharica is equally interested in the business of films: mind you, she has more than a blunt opinion about largely ‘disappointing’ content in Bollywood! Prod her about the recent string of good subjects like Badhaai Ho, Andhadhun and Raazi and she appreciates that we are indeed progressing towards better content.
The Luxembourg Proposal
There is this story about her lost passport and how that was singly responsible for her current relationship—first with the Luxembourg Embassy and then with the ministers from the government. Today, with her multiple network in films, healthcare and international experience, she is hoping that Luxembourg will look at her to be a ‘Liaison Manager’ between the governments of India and Luxembourg. Considering that she is a regular invitee for several high level delegate meets, discussing everything from bilateral issues, trade between the two governments, and health care to proposing film shoots in Luxembourg, this woman will go places alright.
Post Script Take Home
Niharica is happy with the attention she gets even though she lost opportunities (of her own doing) in the big banner films like Dhoom 3, Jannat and Jism. Her roles in Baby, Alone, Warrior Savitri and Masaan will be forgotten if her upcoming release Total Dhamaal, by the sheer weight of its marketing hype, gets her better exposure.
Watch out for Niharica Raizada as she tests her comic timing with ‘Sarkeshwar’ Arshad Warsi in Total Dhamaal!