Class of 2020 fame Nibeditaa Paal: Don’t know if becoming an actor is the best decision, but I always followed my heart and don’t regret it


Growing up watching Bollywood films, Nibeditaa Paal always had a special place for it in her heart. Born and raised in New Zealand, while completing her studies in Australia, Paal decided to pursue a career in showbiz and started as a model. In 2015, she won Miss India Australia. The actor soon flew down to Mumbai to try her luck and got an opportunity to be a part of the reality show MTV Splitsvilla. She also did a few modelling projects before bagging the web series Class of 2020. The actor is now in talks for more films and web projects. Niveditaa talks about what made her decide her career path, journey so far and love for Shah Rukh Khan:

Tell us something about your background and what made you return to India?
I was raised in New Zealand. I stayed there for about 10 years, where I finished my school. After that I shifted to Australia where I completed my graduation. I have a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and double major in Public Relation and Marketing. After completing my education I shifted back to India to pursue a career in acting. My parents are from Mumbai, they were born and raised here.

Before coming to India, you were already a model in Australia and won a beauty pageant. How was the experience winning the crown? How did that change your life?
I won Miss India Australia in 2015 and that sort of enthused me to pursue acting professionally. It also made me fall in love with this performing art form. For me participating in that beauty pageant is really life changing because I was not a glamorous, rather overweight kid. I was not well-groomed or presentable and was bullied in school. I never thought I could be a part of showbiz but when I decided to get into fitness and started working out, my dad used to motivate me a lot. He was fit and always tried pushing me out of my comfort zone. He was finally successful and I decided to take up this beauty pageant thinking this would help understand myself better. It did help me gain confidence and earned me a name.

What was your first biggest break after you came to India? And since then, how has been the journey so far?
Back then in 2017, that show really helped me understand the industry, earned me my audience, some recognition and social media presence too. Honestly I never thought that I wanted to get into reality space but when I got the offer and they told me it’s an MTV project that has a lot of youth viewership, I thought why not. Our season turned out really popular. Then after, I got the show Class of 2020, which again did well. Straight after that I got the opportunity to work with Ekta Kapoor in Kuch Toh Hai: Naagin Ek Naye Rang Mein. It’s unfortunate that the show didn’t last for long

What was the first film that you saw on the big screen?
I think the first film I saw on the big screen I was Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham as an adult. Though when I was two or three years old I had been to theatres but I don’t remember movies I watched. I had also watched a lot of Hindi films on our DVD player. But the first one in a theatre was a big deal.

Did watching Hindi films develop your interest in acting?
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is one of my favourite movies, it’s an iconic film, it’s a classic that everyone loves. I don’t think there has been a film that is more Bollywood than this film. I have watched this film several times along with many others while growing up. So, yes Hindi films are the reason behind me becoming an actor. I love the song-dance-drama routine. As a kid, I would always sing those songs, even danced on them to entertain people. Later, while growing up I was more engrossed in my studies, but the beauty pageant win got my attention back to showbiz.

Tell us about actors you idolise and who inspired you to become an actor?
I have to begin by taking Shah Rukh Khan’s name. I love watching him perform, especially the way he romances on screen. Being a 90’s baby, all SRK films and that of Salman Khan’s fascinated me. I also like Preity Zinta for being graceful, cute and bubbly and Karisma Kapoor for being elegant and beautiful. Both are brilliant performers. I wanted to be like them, be a good performer, and also look good on screen. I am anyway a movie buff and have grown up watching Bollywood. When you live away from home, you don’t know much about your culture and the films helped me learn. I love cinema and the best thing about Bollywood is that it makes one feel good about life. Being an artiste, I feel art is one major aspect of our society that has the power to change it for better.

How has been the journey so far?
Looking at the industry from outside, Bollywood always feels like this glamorous place to be. But once you get inside you realise the amount of hard work, struggle, dedication and focus that one needs to sustain here…Once here, I realised that there’s a lot of work that I needed to do, I needed to polish myself, I wanted to be an actor but my Hindi was horrible. So I started taking diction classes. I also had to work on my acting, my camera presence, my body language, my appearance so much more. There have been days when I felt like I can’t do this anymore, can’t be giving 100 auditions every month… but then you have to get back on your feet and remember your dream. I realised that this is what I want to do in my life, so I have to do it, I can’t give up or quit.

Do you think acting was your best career decision? Is there a backup plan if things don’t work out the way you would want it to?
There isn’t any backup plan. Honestly speaking I don’t know if becoming an actor is the best decision or not, but I followed my heart and don’t regret it. I love being on sets, and can be there 18-24 hours without complaining. I love every bit of it. I believe in this art form and connect with it at many levels. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing, but I enjoy doing it, that is why I’m here.

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