In a world where nepotism and the conversations around it rule the roost, actors like Nidhhi Agerwal stand strong as a girl-next-door who worked her way into stardom. We follow the climb to success of this ‘North Indian-South Indian’ girl who effortlessly fits into film industries across the country…

How did your foray into films happen?
I began my career as a model. I am not from the industry, for that matter, there’s nobody in my family who does anything film-related. My modelling career began in Bangalore after I won this pageant called Femina Style Diva. A model coordinator from Mumbai took notice of me at that pageant and advised me to move to Mumbai and I thought: why not? Let me give this a chance. I decided to go to Mumbai and do a couple of meetings and see what happens. Luckily the meetings turned out to be positive and I eventually ended up moving to Mumbai. And that’s how I got into films.

You grew up in both Hyderabad and Bangalore — how did these two cities influence who Nidhhi Agerwal is today?
I was born in Hyderabad, my mother is from there. But yes, I grew up in Bangalore. I did my schooling, college and most of my life was spent in Bangalore. I am a typical Bangalore girl, but Hyderabad is also very special to me. It is like my second home. Both these cities have made me who I am and I absolutely love them both!

Your debut was in Bollywood, but you quickly made a move down South — was there a reason behind this and do you plan on continuing working in both the South and the North?
I have always wanted to work in both industries — or should I say the South and the North. I’ve always wanted to be a pan-Indian actor. I’ve always been inspired by actors like Aishwarya Rai and Sridevi and how they juggle their careers in each of these industries. Also, you must know that this wasn’t planned. I was absolutely open to making my debut in Tamil, Telugu or Hindi. It just so happened that my debut was in Bollywood. I actually signed on my debut Telugu film at the same time; it’s just that we started shooting that project slightly later.

You’ve made your entry into Kollywood too… a little bit about that film?
I am super excited to finally make my debut in Kollywood. The film is called Bhoomi and it is with Jayam Ravi. The film has really pushed me to give my best performance, yet. I have done things in the film I wasn’t even aware I could do. That it is Jayam Ravi’s 25th film makes it just that much more special.

Are you open to working in Kannada and Malayalam films?
I am always open to interesting work, irrespective of language. I am all about the director. I don’t have a list of actors I want to work with, rather I have a list of directors I want to work with and many of them are from the Kannada and Malayalam film industries.

As a 25-year-old, you are one of the youngest actors in the industry right now — does age give you a certain advantage?
I just turned 25 and I don’t know if age gives me an advantage, but living alone since I was 21 has helped me grow up a lot and really fast. I sometimes think that while I am just 25, in my head I’m already 40!

What are the causes that you feel for?
I love animals more than people. I try to be as ethical as possible, be it the make-up I use or the food I eat — I want it all to be ethically sourced and environmentally friendly. I also feel strongly about education in India and do whatever I can to ensure education is freely available to everyone in India.

You are also a trained dancer – when did you begin learning dance and what styles do you perform in? Has having a career in films affected your passion?
I am a trained ballet dancer. I learnt the form for eight years. I have also professionally learnt other forms including belly dancing, jazz, tap and hip-hop. I had to focus on hip-hop before starting to shoot with Tiger Shroff as that is the style he’s really fond of. I’ve also dabbled in Kathak and it remains to be one of my most favourite forms. I must admit that I am an actor today because of my training in dance. I do get more time to rehearse and practice now, thanks to a career in films. And I’ve got to meet and learn from so many great choreographers.

Have you ever felt like an outsider in the South Indian film industries?
I am an outsider to be very honest. And I am proud to be an outsider because I can stand tall and say whatever I have achieved has been through my own efforts.

Who is the real Nidhhi Agerwal?
She is a passionate girl. She is passionate about her life and career. And she is very kind.

What can we look forward to you in?
I have two films that I need to complete and I have two more scheduled to begin. I have no clue when shooting will resume during this pandemic, but I am looking forward to it.

Any words of advice for people who want to get into acting?
I usually don’t like to give advice. Every single person has a different path. But what I could advise is: train. I didn’t train for this career till I was well within it, but training to be an actor can be very useful.