She is a firebrand performer on- and off-screen. She is iSmart, a quick learner, and more importantly, the quintessence of the most positive person. We are talking about actress Nabha Natesh, who sets the screen ablaze with her hotness; and, with matchless grace, melts hearts as well with her cute persona. As a child, Nabha was an embodiment of versatility with her hands on dancing, singing, painting, and reading, among others. The actress, who shot to immense fame as the iSmart girl with her role in the blockbuster hit movie iSmart Shankar, conversed with The Pioneer’s K. Ramya Sree. We have some really interesting details to share about the actress as excerpts.
I grew up in the temple town of Sringeri along the Western Ghats at Chikmagalur in Karnataka. The town helped me be who I am today. It was filled with orthodox culture; we had thousands of people coming from all around the world every season. Every blue moon, there used to intense cultural activity. I think all of that has been very impactful on me as a child growing up there in the middle of pristine culture, divinity, and more.
A curious kid…
I have been completely involved in cultural activities since childhood. I immersed myself in several types of creative activities. I have been that go-to person in school for every kind of competition, be it dancing, painting, or singing. I have done everything. I have always been that versatile, curious kid who wanted to know everything and learn everything. For me, a lot of things have been self-taught; apart from coaching for Bharatnatyam and classical singing. As a kid, to be allowed to do all these extracurriculars, you need to be good at studying, and I used to score really good grades. I was good at academics too.
Always a learner…
Most of my childhood was spent learning all things creative. I have put my hands on almost everything. Be it Veena or Bharatnatyam, all I remember about my childhood is sitting in my ancestral house. It used to be long, train-like houses. We used to have a huge attic. That attic was my apartment. Every Saturday and Sunday, I used to love going to that attic and practicing all kinds of crafts. I used to have a lot of fun.
A mythology junkie…
I have been a huge mythology junkie all along. If I look back at my childhood, it has been one of the most joyful times of my life. My parents have been very supportive, letting me do whatever I wanted to, and I feel blessed to have them. They encouraged me to do anything and everything I wanted to do. My mind was completely in a space that was never satisfied and always on the hunt to learn something new.
No theatre in town…
I love movies. I used to watch a lot of movies. My brother and I always used to get into a lot of trouble. Imagine that my town had no theatre. That’s a kind of craziness. We used to go to my grandmother’s house, and before that, I used to make a list of all the movies that I was supposed to watch that season. Whichever movie was in theatres, I used to take someone else with me to watch it. I used to bug my uncles to buy me DVDs. I used to be an intense, crazy, fun person who never had a lazy day.
Popular since childhood…
I was very notorious. My dad used to get calls during various stages of my academic journey, right from school to engineering college. I used to get into trouble a lot. If you are somebody who wants to be good at everything, then you end up being good at being naughty, too. During my examinations, despite having individual chairs, my teachers always made me sit alongside the podium, alone. I still remember being kicked out of lab exams, etc. My dad was always confused about what to do with me because of the kind of bubbling energy I had. I used to garner a lot of attention from people. In my 11th or 12th grade, I was in a boarding school. According to my wardens, whatever be the shit that happened in the hostel, I was held responsible for it. One day, I was watching TV on the ground floor, and a big commotion was happening on the upper floors, and my warden came running, yelling my name. She was shocked to see me doing nothing. She had presumed I was behind the commotion upstairs.
My dad is a businessman. He also worked for the government. My mom was a homemaker. I feel they are the best people ever. My dad loves his family, so he used to spend a lot of time with us. My dad was obsessed with whatever I was doing. They have been very supportive of whatever I do. My parents are among those who work towards being ‘parents’, instead of just accumulating wealth. My dad always taught us to be by ourselves. I was 15 or 16 years old when I got out of my house. He helped me with nothing. When I used to come home with 4 or 5 pieces of luggage, he never helped. He used to be like, “If you want to come home, pick up your own luggage and come.” The self-reliant and strong person I am today is because of them. They were the kind of parents who used to celebrate every tiniest achievement of mine. It is fortunate to have parents like them. Growing up with them was very surreal.
Brother is also coming into the movies…
My brother has been the most beautiful soul I have ever encountered. He is my best friend, if I have to say so. He is somebody with whom I can share anything and everything. But as a kid, we used to fight a lot and hate each other, but once I got out of my house, there was a certain bonding that was created between us. Now he is also coming into movies. We spoke about a lot of movies and actors. He is somebody who is always rooting for me and supporting me. Since he is also in the same field, I can talk about all kinds of stuff and share whatever I am feeling.
During my engineering studies, I was missing proper outlets for my creative juices. We had a lot of scope for extracurricular activities in my college. My mom started pointing out that I should not be aiming at just a 9-to-5 job and that I am fit for doing much more than that. I did modelling and won many pageants, but somehow modelling too didn’t satisfy me, and I felt I must become an actor. That’s when I started doing theatre. I did it for more than two years. I performed across the country. I did my acting course as well. Meanwhile, I was giving auditions and meeting people. That’s how I cracked my first movie through auditions.
A total nerd…
I can keep myself from even stepping out of the house. I learned to do a lot of things as a child. So now I read and paint. I am very curious about the world and history; so, I explore the universe and watch diverse content. I practice dancing and do a lot of stuff. I am somebody who can enjoy my own company and somebody else’s company. I am totally a nerd. I read a lot of books as well.
iSmart Shankar is very special…
Handsdown iSmart Shankar is my breakthrough film. Until then, people knew that I was good at my work and that I had that captivating screen presence. But iSmart was something where, in total, I had a different character to play. It’s a mass commercial film, and I had dance numbers to perform. It was like a package for me. So iSmart was something that changed the whole course of my career. I must thank the entire team for it and even Puri sir for giving me a cool character.
I was at the peak of my career when I had a physical injury that left me with a broken shoulder bone. I had to undergo surgeries. I took a break for an entire year. That was the lowest period in my entire life. For, after iSmart, I was in a position where I had access to the kinds of roles and movies I wanted to do. I had to let go of movies, which are some big hits now, because of my surgery. I wasn’t physically ready then to be on the sets. I held myself responsible for not being careful enough at my peak. Later, I realized that, at that point in time, I needed to prioritize my body. After all that, I am finally back and full of energy.
I am made for the big screen…
I honestly feel like I am made for the big screen. I feel I am an entertainer more than anything. I love to bring joy to the audience. I am not saying I will not do anything for the theatre, but if I get anything mind-blowing, then I might do OTT.
I think I am a very courageous person and I am very quick learner. You give me anything, I can quickly learn and be good at it. That’s my huge strength. I was 15 years when I was put into boarding, so I learned how to live and make good out of anything that people give you.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence or in three words? Eternally curious and courageous
Which is your most favourite film so far? (One from yours and one in general) iSmart Shankar, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
A memory etched your heart? My attic at my home where I spent most my childhood doing all creative stuff
The most expensive gift you gifted yourself? My car
Favourite food? Idly
Are you spiritual? Deeply
Favourite colour? White
A place/city you wish to visit? Iceland to watch the aurora
Favourite holiday destination? Any place with a beach
An actor you loved working with? Everyone I worked with
Favourite actor, actresss? SRK, Maggot Robbie
What’s your current read? Ramachandra series by Amish
What music is being played on loop in your music list? My music is mix of everything
Latest movie you watched? Midnight in Paris