A candid chat with 'The Lunchbox' actress Nimrat Kaur

You have seen her staring at you from traffic signals, seductively licking a chocolate bar, almost convincing you to do the same. However, that’s not only the reason why Nimrat Kaur is under the spotlight. She is a part of Ritesh Batra’s internationally acclaimed film, The Lunchbox (releases September 20), wherein she plays a doting housewife who is trying to catch her husband’s attention by packing tasty meals for him for lunch.

Nimrat Kaur

One day, the lunchbox gets exchanged and reaches an elderly gentleman played by Irrfan Khan. Thus starts an understated love story between the two, whose ending may not be as one desired, but it leaves one with hope and faith in love. “I am a huge fan of romantic stories, unrequited love and love stories which do not necessarily follow a said pattern. When I was offered the script, it was the unpredictability of the script and the unconventionality of the romance which attracted me,” says the actress, who like her character, loves to cook, too.

Ever since The Luncbox was screened at the Festival De Cannes earlier this year, Nimrat’s performance has been duly praised. At Semaine De La Critique (The International Critics Week) at Cannes, she was introduced as the modern day Charulata, Sharmila Tagore and Madhubala. Karan Johar, after watching the film tweeted saying, “Nimrat Kaur is the soul of The Lunchbox, projecting marital angst, urban depression and longing for love like a legendary actor.” Nimrat, however, takes all the praise with a pinch of salt. “It is really overwhelming, but I believe I have a long way to go. And things happen when they are meant to,” she says.

Nimrat, a Punjabi, was brought up in places all across India, as her father was in the Army. After completing her graduation in Delhi, she convinced her parents about her dream of becoming an actor. “They weren’t against it, but they were certainly worried for me.” Nimrat came to Mumbai nine years ago with a plan to try her luck for sometime, and if things did not work out, she would return home. Like most aspirants in the city, she got her portfolio clicked and distributed her pictures to various production houses. “I went for a number of auditions everyday. My first break came with Kumar Sanu and Shreya Ghoshal’s music video, Tera Mera Pyaar.” Nimrat went on to bag many commercials, including those for Asian Paints and Kaya Skin Clinic.

After almost four years in the industry, she felt the need to do something different. “My main intention of coming to this city was to act. But I had come here without a course in acting. I knew acting couldn’t be learned, but I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could do it.” She soon began watching plays and was introduced to some theatre artistes. She was then offered a role in one of the plays directed by Sunil Shanbagh.

Films were still a distant dream for the actress, but she let things take their course. “There is a time and space for everything, and I knew it would happen when it was meant to.” Soon enough, she was spotted by Vasan Bala who wanted her to be a part of Peddlers. “I met Vasan and he narrated the role to me. It was a small role, but I was willing to do it,” she says. This was then followed by The Lunchbox, which catapulted her to new heights of stardom. “I have always believed that when you want something the universe does conspire to help you achieve it. And in my case, it certainly has.”

Nimrat is now willing to take it slow. She hasn’t signed another film after The Lunchbox. “I now want to do a film which is far removed from what I have done in the past. I am willing to wait,” she confirms. She says she feels secure because she feels the city has embraced her wholeheartedly and given her a sense of belonging. “I have positive people around me who keep me happy and content. When I came to Mumbai, I was often asked whether I missed having a godfather here. Now I can confidently say that ‘Mumbai is my godfather,” she smiles. 

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