Interview: Danseuse - Actress NIKKITASHA MARWAHA on her film "9 ELEVEN", Miss India Worldwide Crown & Path to Bollywood

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Nikkitasha MarwahaWashington, DC, May 6, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) As you know, the dazzlingly beautiful Nikkitasha Marwaha, who we all are very proud of in the Washington area, is an exceptional dancer and a fabulous actress. Nikkitasha grew up in Fairfax and studied at Northwestern University while she was winning Miss India Worldwide in 2009 at Durban, South Africa and competing with remarkable performances in the reality contest "Dance India Dance" in Season Two. A popular girl loved by all in the Washington DC Indian-American community, Nikkitasha is also a lead actress in Manan Singh Katohora's award-winning feature film "9 eleven" (the film is available via online streaming by Databazaar Media) which will premiere at the first Washington DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF 2012) next month. Nikkitasha joined us from Mumbai, India to chat informally with Gurjeet Singh.

Her Dad wanted to name her Nikki, and her Mom had Natasha in mind - her given name, a compromise, is wonderfully unusual and most people never seem to able to forget it. Madhuri Dixit, Karishma Kapoor and Sridevi influenced her into Bollywood dancing when she was a kid of four; by the time she was 10 it was deemed that she should get some formal training and started getting lessons in Indian Classical Kuchipudi Dance at India International School in Virginia - a training that lasted 12 years and culminated in a two-hour recital, with her Guru watching, to graduate. Along the line she also picked up ballet and influences from Hollywood and Bollywood films, and Broadway theater which only reinforced her enthusiasm for performing arts.

Nikkitasha Marwaha in Dance India Dance Season 2 Episode 4  - Mumbai Audition

Her stint with Dance India Dance Season 2 was a big step forward both personally and professionally - Nikkitasha believes she probably practiced for this reality competition TV show like never before, and we all know the results were spectacular. The challenges were huge for a girl who had to suspend her studies, fly across the globe, stay in Mumbai for perhaps six months or more, and compete with some of the best dancers from the homeland and abroad. At the end of the day, her training and perseverance, her choreography skills and ability to fuse western dance forms effortlessly into classical Indian moves, along with encouragement from her parents, served her very well.

Chatting about her Miss India Worldwide crown, Nikkitasha says she used to watch Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai and other winners of world-class beauty pageants carefully which partly prepared her for the grueling path to the crown. Competition is respectful but fierce when one is up against the most intelligent and beautiful girls from across the world - she admits her greatest challenge at a personal level was to not be afraid on stage and hold on to her confidence. Again, the support of her parents was invaluable as always.

Nikkitasha's lead role in 9 Eleven is her first in a full-length feature film, but she is no stranger to acting and the camera. An important aspect of Indian classical dances is facial expression, and also Nikkitasha had acted live on stage in a lot of acclaimed plays in Hindi and English. She has acted previously in the independent film "Girl Bride" (watch a clip on Youtube) directed by Shabbir Kazmi and also been a professional anchor on TV.

Her role in 9 Eleven of a "item song" dancer is a difficult one, portraying a character who is trying to figure out what she has done in her life and where to go on from where, confronting her inner coflicts and daemons inside. Nikkitasha is appreciative of help from Manan Katohora, the director, and her parents who would share ideas with her in delivering her remarkable performance in the film. Given that Manan did not disclose the last ten pages of the script with even his cast members before the last week of shooting, Nikkitasha admits to have been pretty clueless about how her character ends up till the very end of shooting, which says a lot about the twist in the tale that you have to watch the film to see!

Bolstered by her achievements thus far, Nikkitasha has now moved to Mumbai and starting to find her way in the biggest film industry in the world. Not being blessed with having any family ties or Godfathers in Bollywood, she has to work her way up the hard way, but brimming with confidence and radiating talent, there is no question the girl from Fairfax, VA will be seen in posters of big Bollywood movies in the coming days, and we will be cheering her all the way to super-stardom!

- Article by Supratim Sanyal

Editor's note: Gurjeet Singh is a Financial Analyst by profession and lives in Germantown, Maryland in the Washington DC metro area. A great enthusiast of Indian-American cultural exchanges, Gurjeet is also an avid  music lover. In her free time she dabs in some water color painting and loves to go on long walks. Gurjeet can be reached at guri070555 [at] yahoo [dot] com.