Thappad actor Nidhi Uttam: Taapsee Pannu is an inspiration

Written by Sana Farzeen
| Mumbai |

Published: March 12, 2020 4:18:21 pm

nidhi uttam thappad Nidhi Uttam plays Kavita in Thappad. (Photo: Nidhi Uttam/Instagram)

Taapsee Pannu starrer Thappad has created quite a stir. The Anubhav Sinha directorial presents the story of a woman who files for a divorce after her husband slaps her. While she fights for her self respect, people around her, even the family members, discourage her from taking this step by saying that it was just a slap.

Television actor Nidhi Uttam plays a character on the same lines, who accepts the elders’ choice and decision without blinking an eye. She enacts the role of Amrita’s (Pannu) sister-in-law Kavita in the film.

In an exclusive conversation with, the Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai actor opened up about Thappad, relishing its effect around her and more.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation

How did Thappad happen? And how has been the response till now?

Well, I went through a usual audition. I was happy to know that it will be set in Lucknow, which is my in-laws place. And I was all the more excited when I found out that Anubhav Sinha will be directing it. As for the feedback, all my relatives and friends have been showering me with compliments. Even though my part was not too big, they are proud that I could be associated with such an important film, in my first Bollywood outing.

Everyone wants to shine in their first film, and here you knew Taapsee would be taking the cake…

(Cuts in) I know everybody wants to play the lead. But as an actor, your performance should be the most important thing. I was getting to share the screen with such veteran actors. Coming from a non-filmy background, this was a big thing for me. I really felt it could be the right step to make my way into the movies. And I am getting a great response. I remember Anubhav sir called me saying that he really liked my work. He also felt that they couldn’t do justice, and could have given me a stronger part. So now, he has promised to give me a role in his next film (smiles).

A lot has been said about the prejudice against television actors, and how they need to unlearn things before moving to films. How has been your experience?

I think I was fortunate that I have done realistic roles in most of my shows. I have been part of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai for a decade and I deliver my lines in it as I speak in my daily life. So there was not too much to unlearn. On the other hand, there was a scene that required me to cry, and given my TV experience, I could crack it in no time. I am really looking forward to my next projects where I get to perform more emotions.

What were the challenges of playing a docile character like Kavita?

The brief given to me was clear- she is the daughter in law from a rich family, who has no say. She also has no right to even emote and has stopped putting her thoughts forward. But my biggest challenge was to work with such senior actors. I was actually a bit awestruck. The team was however so warm, and never made me realise that I was working with them for the first time. I would like to mention that on the day of the premiere, Dia Mirza messaged me saying that I was really good in the film. I was a bundle of nerves not knowing how much of my part will be retained in the final editing. And here she was taking that effort to message. It was a big thing for me.

And how was it working with Taapsee Pannu?

She is a sweetheart. Taapsee is such a natural and very hardworking. I really wish to work with her again. I have followed her career, and she has been lucky to get such great scripts. She also deserves every bit of her success, as coming from a non-film family, she has managed to make her mark. She is an inspiration.

Do you feel a film like Thappad can actually change things in society?

Most definitely. My cousin called me after seeing the film, and told me how he had joined his hands to apologise to his wife. Not that he has ever raised his hand on her but men tend to take their wives for granted, and put themselves first. I was so touched that it has managed to give such important lessons to so many people.

Your character was in contrast to Taapsee, who takes a stand for herself. What do you think is required to give women the strength to fight for themselves?

I think conditioning and upbringing makes the most difference. That helps you take every decision in your life. When you say that it’s okay to adjust and let go, it means you are giving up. My dad has always been very supportive. He always taught us that our happiness is the most important thing, and we should never compromise. When I saw Kumud Mishra sir on screen, playing a similar character, I was in tears. I could relate to him so much. This film is a very important one. It has a straight message- a slap might be a small thing, but you cannot do that. Self-respect is very important for every human being.

While many actors from Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai moved out, what makes you be still associated with it?

The show has given me everything. People know me because of Yeh Rishta… I will always have a lot of gratitude towards it. Also, it’s not that the makers have asked me to stay, I did other shows like Ek Boondh Ishq, Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani and Ishq Bole Oberoi in between. But I have grown as an actor on Yeh Rishta and it will always be special to me.

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