The ever effervescent and always gorgeous actress Nimrat Kaur tells us about making it big in the Indian and international film industries, her festive memories, and upcoming projects in a candid tête-à-tête.
By DEEPIKA NANDAL
Of Childhood Memories
As an army officer’s kid, I grew up in various parts of India, including Patiala, Pune, Yingkiong (a tiny town in Arunachal Pradesh), Bhatinda, and even Kashmir. And so, my early experiences in life were quite rich and varied. Cantonment life is the most sheltered, yet full of adventure! In Kashmir, I remember climbing cherry trees in summer and making snowmen in the winter. My memories of Arunachal Pradesh in the early ’80s include rolling in meadows and being amid nature. Sheer bliss!
The Alluring World of Dramatics
We didn’t have a television set at home for the longest time. But when I saw Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi on screen, I was simply awestruck. I remember imitating Madhuri in the bathroom (I was greatly inspired by the soap advertisements she featured in!). I think that’s how I became active on stage during my school years, despite having to move frequently due to my dad’s profession. I could act and debate—anything to do with having an audience. I realised I loved how people reacted to whatever I was doing on stage.
After studying at the Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi, I headed to Mumbai and gave myself six months to see if I can make it in the acting space. I just couldn’t imagine myself at a regular job. So, I went about it step by step. After working as a model for advertisements, I acted in some music videos. These were followed with a lot of theatre work—I needed to learn professional acting to begin with! And this process really helped me. That said, I faced not just a tough moment or two, but several days that were really hard. I remember saying no to a television serial. And the director told me, “Do you think your face is worth anything else?” That really broke my heart. I was new and later understood that he wanted to break my spirit. I still didn’t give up.
Giving up is something that doesn’t exist in my dictionary. I used to read interviews to motivate myself and would even underline things Shah Rukh Khan would say in the magazines when I was in school. I also followed the stories of a few others who were ‘outsiders’ but made their way into Bollywood. And I thought, if they can do it, I can, too. Also, as an army kid, you don’t know how to give yourself an option. Growing up, my father used to have unrelenting faith in me. He would say, “She can move anything.” When The Lunchbox premiered in Cannes, it was such a big occasion for all of us. It was my first lead part. We never expected it to be the hit that it became and I had to pinch myself to remember that it was all real!
I’ve been told I have a face that can belong anywhere—South America, Europe, and across Asia. Filmmaker Alex Graves (one of the directors of Homeland) sent me an email saying he couldn’t think of anyone else if I didnʼt agree to be in the second season of his show, Foundation. It was a request I could not turn down. What a beautiful canvas of which to be a part!
Places That Blew My Mind
Whenever I’m outside the country for work—be it South Africa, Europe, Vancouver, or Morocco—I make sure I travel around and explore that place. Once, when we were filming at the Canary Islandsʼ Teide National Park, I felt like I was on a different planet! That terrain is just so stunningly beautiful. Kashmir is also very close to my heart. And I would love to go to Uttarakhand. If I canʼt take a flight, I just take my car out and go outside of Mumbai to Lonavala, Mulshi, or for a short trek somewhere. I love it when you end up going to a beautiful place due to a pure love for bohemia.
Special Memories Back Home
When working abroad, the most trying challenge is to stay away from home for a long period of time. Especially during festivals. I remember, our celebrations were quite simple when we were growing up. I loved lighting sarson ke tel ke diye (mustard oil lamps) and candles on Diwali. There is one memory I cherish. During Diwali, my father made sure to save a packet of phool jadi (sparklers) for Gurpurab (the birth anniversary of the Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak). It was such a treat to light that packet of fire crackers after about two weeks on a full moon night!
For The Love Of Food
My naniʼs (maternal grandmother) rajma chawal (kidney bean curry and rice), with desi ghee on it, is the best version on the planet! I love eating on my travels. I will break my diet for pizzas from Grimaldiʼs Pizzeria in Brooklyn, New York, and adore Pragueʼs trdelníks (a kind of spit cake). In India, I love chhole (chickpea curry) and pyaaz ke kulche (onions stuffed flatbread) sold near the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
I love an oversized denim jacket—itʼs great for a flight or even to jazz up an outfit. You can’t go wrong with a white shirt-dress—it goes well with a belt, high heels, and even sneakers. For festive wear, I like sarees and salwar kameezes in bright colours. I donʼt like to underplay anything—give me rani pinks, magentas, and vibrant tomato reds. And I love traditional statement earrings!
My Skin Mantra
I keep it simple and organic. Extra virgin coconut oil is my go-to for lymphatic drainage massages on the face. I also love Dr Dinyar Workingboxwallaʼs products (BiE). Simple things can make a huge difference, like using a Vitamin E capsule at bedtime for fresh, plump skin the next morning. I take everything off my face before I call
it a night.
Meditation is a must for me. I maintain a daily journal and need to speak to my mom at least three times a day! I write poetry to keep my creative juices flowing. My idea of unwinding is playing with my two cats—Kitkat and Karamchand.
On The Horizon
It has been an outstanding experience to work with Amitabh Bachchan in Section 84. The movie will be released next year. Then, there is Happy Teachersʼ Day, a fast-moving, gripping, and entertaining story that I am really excited about. I can’t wait for people to watch it!
QUICK SHOTS WITH NIMRAT
A song you can’t get out of your head.
Sleepless by AP Dhillon.
Are you a morning person or night owl?
Early to bed and very early to rise!
A book you love.
A Search In Secret India by Paul Brunton.
A piece of jewellery you can’t do without.
A gold kada (Indian bangle) gifted by my mom.
Which is that one character you would love to portray on screen?
Novelist and poet Amrita Pritam.
If not an actor, what would you be?
A travel journalist (related to the world of wildlife).
Mountains or beaches?
Three words to describe Nimrat.
Explorer, childlike, and curious.
Your favourite Indian designer.
Three make-up essentials you can’t live without.
Lip balm, mascara, and blush.