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Medicine and Stardom - Aspirations of A Young Lady
Vasu Reddy from Chicago
Aspirations are earnest desires. She has aspirations to become an actress, while studying medicine. A week ago or so when I received an email from Nikhila is when I first met this young lady who is studying medicine, while also dreaming of acting. My readers are supportive group of folks who always spare the time to write to me on their opinions to improve the columns, and ideas for next set of columns. At a time I have been thinking of aspirations (nothing in particular) and anticipation of doing something that I always wanted, Nikhila presented me with the opportunity to write a column on her own aspirations. Born in the USA in Oklahoma City, now Nikhila’s family lives in The Woodlands, TX near Houston. She completed her undergraduate studies in Houston, and now in medical school in Dallas. Nikhila’s parents are originally from Hyderabad, father is a civil engineer and mom is a customer sales associate.
Human aspirations are individual. Here is a young lady already on the way to be a medical doctor, and already successful with school and performing arts, who is apparently looking to chase a dream. Being a private person is what I cherish the most and here is Nikhila wanting to be an actress and give up her privacy. I asked her a series of questions through email and present her answers unedited. I have always enjoyed cinema in all languages, and admit to watching movies only if I like the heroine except when Amitabh Bacchan was the hero. Prior to writing on her aspirations, I asked her to make sure that her parents supported the column and her sharing of such private information, which she readily complied with.
Name: Nikhila Reddy Pinnapureddy
Nick Name: Nikhi, Nik in college
DOB: January 20th
Education: Finished high school and got my bachelor’s in biochemistry from Rice University; currently pursuing a degree in medicine at UT Southwestern in Dallas
Parents, brothers and sisters: My family consists of my parents, my older sister, my younger brother, and me
Hobbies: singing/listening to music, dancing/choreographing, watching sports, surfing the net, working out, hanging out with friends
Acting or Dancing: When I was 10 years old, I was a regular on a local television show in Oklahoma, which ran for two seasons. Besides that I have no acting experience. I have been a dancer since I was 4, which is when I began learning Bharathanatyam. I also did tap and ballet as a child, but I ultimately stuck with Bharathanatyam and performed. My sister and I performed our Arangetram together in the summer of 2000. Since then, I have continued dancing, doing both classical dance and more modern/filmy type dances. Throughout college, I danced/choreographed both movie and semi classical dances each semester for our Rice South Asian Society programs. I also performed Bharathanatyam as well as fusion dances at several community cultural events in Houston.
1. Why acting instead of medicine?
Response: I really don’t consider it choosing acting over medicine in all honesty. To me, medicine is my ambition, while acting is my fantasy. I’m not going to sit around waiting for one or the other to just happen. Instead, I’m going to go out and try and achieve both of them. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to have both in my life.
2. Is your family supportive of your venturing into acting?
Response: My family is supportive of everything I do. Though they are a bit wary of the film profession, they are supportive if it’s something I really want to do. However, they do caution me repeatedly about the roles I could be offered. They know that I would never do anything embarrassing or degrading though.
3. What makes you think you can compete with the current crop of young ladies already in the field, and why do you think you will succeed?
Response: You know, sometimes when I watch films, I feel like so much of it is luck! You can be a beautiful and talented actress and still not be the number one heroine…Sada is a perfect example. She’s gorgeous and we’ve all seen how talented she is but she isn’t at the top of every director or producer’s list.
I don’t know what the industry holds for me, but I am a competitive person, and I would definitely put in more than 100% to try and be the best. I think my dedication and hard work, hopefully combined with a bit of luck, will help me succeed.
4. The folks in the South Indian film industry have adapted to the heroines from other states, and have very few local girls. This may be a difficult entry into the industry?
Response: You’re right; it does create a bit of dilemma for Telugu girls like me who want to make an entry. I think basically the main problem is that the industry has a very narrow view of what is beautiful. Yes, all the heroines we see are indeed pretty, but whatever happened to an “Andamaina Telugu Ammai?” (Beautiful Telugu Girl) Plenty of them exist, I’ve seen them everywhere just in the U.S.! Just by watching old Telugu movies and looking at the difference between most of today’s heroines and those of the past, I can honestly say that it seems like it’s really hard to emote to the fullest extent when you don’t have completely control over the language. I’m not saying that I’m perfect at the Telugu, but I hope that the fact that I have a decent command of the language will give me a bit of an edge.
5. The industry is full of surprises for both men and women, and the career of an actress has a fairly short span. Would you continue to keep medicine as the first career choice?
Response: Medicine will always be my first career choice because it is something that I can do forever. Acting in Telugu movies is just a passion that I can really only fulfill at this age in my life. Even if I only do one movie, I will be thrilled just because I had a chance to experience my dream.
6. Tell me why you will be a good actress?
Response: I know I haven’t really had much acting experience, but I do think the fact that I have been doing Bharathanatyam for so long will play to my advantage, as that in itself is acting. Also, I’m a very emotional person so I don’t think I’d have trouble emoting on screen.
7. What reservations or apprehensions do you have if you really get an opportunity to become an actress? How will you face them?
Response: I think my main issues are with exploitation and vulgarity sometimes seen onscreen involving females. The dance moves and costumes are sometimes just not appropriate for audiences to see, particularly because we don’t have a rating system, so family audiences are often watching. Also I think sometimes the inappropriate physical interaction between hero and heroine is gratuitous and unnecessary. I would hope that since I am basically entering as an average audience member with these feelings, a director would take my opinion somewhat into account when deciding what is tasteful and appropriate. Like I said before though, I refuse to go as far as to do something that would be degrading.
8. Why not have your friends and family make a quick movie so it will give you an opportunity to experience the movie making process?
Response: I think that type of movie making process and that of the Telugu film industry are two very different things. A quick movie seems like it is something that would be done just for the sake of making a movie. I love the songs, dances, comedy, and basically larger-than-life nature of the film world. The experience I am looking for is something that I can only really find by actually getting to be a heroine in a Telugu movie in Tollywood.
9. Anything in particular you would like to convey to the readers?
Response: If you have a dream like this, even if it sounds unattainable and almost silly, don’t give it up just because it’s not practical. I have both practical and impractical ambitions, doing medicine and acting in Telugu movies. It’s not written anywhere that I can only achieve one of them. But I’m not waiting around for either of them to happen to me…I’m going out and actively trying to accomplish both. That’s something that I think people must remember in life: If you want something badly, don’t wait for it to land in your lap; go out and get it. I want to thank Mr. Vasu Reddy so much for giving me this opportunity; it really means a lot to me.
Movies can be magical. When they are well made they entertain, and the actors touch their audiences and sometimes inspire them. Outside of money and power the audience appreciation is perhaps the biggest return to the actors. Nikhila for sure can achieve success in both medicine and movies. This young lady is impressive with her do it all attitude and the desire to make her fantasy a reality, while excelling in her education. I have always admired people who are willing to go after their aspirations. That’s what is the real story.
I wish Nikhila best of luck and offer my support. I am certain she will become a caring and wonderful doctor, while she aspires for the opportunity to also become an actress. Nikhila promised me that when she invents a great medical advance or make it to the movies, I have the first excusive story on her. All she has to do is do both, and I have two more columns. If we don’t aspire we will never get to be what we want to be. Let us aspire for our dreams to become real.
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