NIKUN SHRESTHA: FROM TURNTABLES TO THE BIG SCREEN
Method acting has been practiced by some of the greatest actors in the film making industry all over the world. The technique of creating the feelings and thoughts of the characters they are going to play to develop life like performances doesn’t come easily to most actors, let alone to budding amateurs. However, Nikun Shrestha has been making the rounds for doing exactly that. Ambitious and diligent, the DJ turned actor believes that acting is one of the greatest art forms and the most powerful means to connect to masses and a make a significant impact in the society. However he also agrees that show-business is one of the most dangerous careers one can get into. According to him, fame is temporary and if one is to sustain its position as a good actor he/she should rather focus on delivering exceptional work rather than chasing popularity.
After the so-so reception of his previous movie: Chaddke, his upcoming project however, seems more promising. Zhigrana, written and directed by Pasang Lama, shot by Shailendra D. Karki and edited by Nimesh Shrestha is a multi-starrer film featuring Nikun along with a long list of other characters. We got to talk to him about his new ventures and himself in a short tête-à-tête.
How did you get into show business?
I loved acting from a very young age; I used to participate in various school plays but I didn’t really see it as a future at that time. As to how I landed in the movie industry, I don’t know whether I should consider it as a co-incidence or something that I was destined for.
A few years back, I was DJ-ing at Attic. Namrata Shrestha and Saugat Malla were also there and were apparently searching to cast someone for a particular role in Chaddke. Namrata di came up to me and told me that my appearances and my personality perfectly matched the character they were looking for and hence called me for a screen test. I decided to give it a shot and luckily got accepted. That’s how my career as an actor began.
Since you are an aspiring actor, tell us a bit about your experience in the movie industry so far?
Our movie industry looks like a happy world where actors are discovered on street corners and put into movies. It can look easy, and something that everyone can do. Yes, it has its share of fun but there is more to it than what meets the eyes.
It may seem extremely glamorous and mesmerizing from the outside, but once you get involved in it, you understand that there is a lot of dark and lonely reality. You make some good friends but you realise that some are just there because you are a part of the ‘so called glamorous world.’
The other issue is that everybody involved in this industry struggles financially. Nepalese movies are still trying to build a sizeable audience. But despite the promotions we are still lacking a good viewership resulting to pitiful box office success. Even as an actor I cannot demand a heavy pay for my work because of the situation the whole industry is going through.
I have come to the realization that to actually be able to get a great pay-check in this profession, I would have to first establish myself as an extremely competent actor with an ability to attract a lot of viewers. Only then will I feel worthy of demanding a high range of pay for my work.
Is there a particular type of movie you prefer to play in or are you open to any kind of movies?
To be honest, acting for me is more about the role I will be playing than about the type of movie I will be acting for. I don’t care if I’m doing a movie with a big banner or a small one, or if it’s commercial or an art film. If the script is interesting and if I think I can do justice to my role, I will take up the project.
What do you think are the best and worst things about being an actor in Nepal?
Everybody has one life but actors, they can live multiple lives. We can be what we want to be. For example, if my role in a movie demands me to become a pilot, I actually get an opportunity to experience the life of a pilot and no other profession ever gives you that chance. That’s the best part.
Like I mentioned earlier, the worst part of being an actor is that there are high possibilities of you ending up lonely. Our profession demands immense time and focus which makes it hard for us (actors) to spend some personal time with our loved ones.
Have you experienced this personally?
Yes. When I first started getting into acting, I got so focused and involved with my future goals that I ruined a good relationship with my girlfriend. I started taking her for granted. I didn’t realise or understand what was going wrong back then but when I finally did, it was too late.
Do real life experiences help you while acting in movies?
Definitely! The ability to relate to your personal experiences while acting makes your job simpler because it helps you bring out emotions in front of the camera easily. For example, if I have to cry in certain scenes I remember the times that left me shattered emotionally and try to relive that moment. The same goes when I have to portray all other feelings.
Who inspires you the most?
Saugat Malla. Besides being a great actor, he is also a great human being. Despite having achieved such fame and name, he is extremely humble and believes in living a simple life.
Who are your biggest mentors in the movie industry?
Nigam dai, the director of Chaddke has been by mentor from day one. He has taught me a lot; he has pushed me to do better in life as well as my career. His advices have turned me into a more optimistic person as well as a better actor. Besides him, Sunil Pokharel, the guru of Gurukul has motivated me to a huge extent.
Things you would like to achieve in this industry …
I want to be an exceptional actor who is loved and admired by everyone. I want to be somebody who can motivate others not just in the industry, but in the society as a whole.
So your next movie is all set to release. Tell us about it and your role in the movie.
The name of my next movie is Zhigrana, written and directed by Pasang Lama. It is basically a thriller that revolves around the story of eight crew members of an NGO who land up in a small village called Zhigrana on their way to Ruku: an area famous for a killer on the loose who sacrifices humans in the name of Kaal Panchami, a mythical ghost.
In this movie, I am portraying the story of a half Spanish guy who is a film maker by profession and a Casanova by character. I believe that my role is extremely interesting and the same time equally challenging.
We heard that you had a steamy hot scene in the movie. How was it?
When I heard about it, at first I was very nervous. I knew the scene was important for the story but I had no clue how it would be portrayed. When I learnt that Mr. Shailendra D. Karki would be shooting the scene, I was more confident. This was because I had full confidence in his and the director’s work. I knew this scene would be shot in the most elegant way possible.
The other aspect that made this scene easier was the comfort I shared with Menuka Pradhan. While shooting this scene at first I was hesitant and weary of how she would feel. But she was very professional, sporty and supportive and that made it easier for both of us to pull it off.
What do you think needs to be changed or improved in our movie industry?
According to me there are three types of film makers in our industry right now. The first type includes a group of directors/producers who are making the same type of movies from decades and are still unwilling to change. The second type involve a new generation of film makers who studied film making and possess a lot of interesting ideas but lack investment. And the third type involves a group of people who want to make movies just for the sake of earning money. These are the ones who have enough money but less knowledge. If only the second and the third category collaborated, I believe our industry would go much further.
Besides that, our business also lacks professionalism and that definitely needs to be improved.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
What is your relationship status right now? Is there a particular type of woman you are attracted to?
I am single and I do not feel I am ready for a relationship, not yet. When it comes to a partner, I do not have a particular type but I would want her to understand me and accept me as I am.
What is the one thing that you like to splurge on?
So this is for all the fans willing to connect to you through social media, how can they do so through your
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: Nikunshrestha
FACEBOOK: Nikun Shrestha
You can also like my page: DJ Phuchhey
Four things people do not know about Nikun Shrestha…
- I am an open book; I don’t care about being judged.
- I am very spiritual, but not religious.
- I travel a lot.
- When I was in Bombay I started recording each of my crazy moments in my Go-pro.
When the right time comes, I intend to make a movie out of all those recorded clips.
Photo: Bibhas Maharjan Suwal