– Mohammed Yaser Khan
Nivaan Sen is one of those underrated actors who has worked almost with most major Hindi Television and Bollywood movie producing Production Houses. He was a true discovery who made his way to fame with one of its kind reality show India’s Best Cinestars Ki Khoj. His fan following led him to do two major TV shows, one with Ekta Kapoor’s ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii’ and the other with Rajshri Productions called ‘Do Hanson Ka Jodaa’. He did couple of shows more and now is all set to make not one but two debuts, one as a Bollywood actor in the role of Rajesh in Amit Sadh starrer ‘Saat Kadam’ and the other as a digital content Producer with music videos and short films.
As Nivaan embarks this new journey, here’s our exclusive chat with the actor who is turning Producer and has an unmatched vision. He talks about his past and future, learn what the actor had to say:
Q. Tell us something about your journey from Zee Cinestars Ki Khoj till date. What are your current plans?
Nivaan Sen: My journey in the entertainment industry started with Zee TV’s reality show Zee Cine Stars Ki Khoj. I was a runner up of the that show and had also won the Best Comic Actor Award on that show. I garnered a lot of attention and fan following with it and started getting a lot of offers for films and TV shows. I was a boy from a small town of Benaras who had no guiding force to help me judge between right and wrong. I had a lot of mistakes which I later regretted. During this period, I was offered Balaji Telefilms‘ show ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii‘ by Ekta (Kapoor) Ma’am. That was my first show and then I got to do a lot of other shows like ‘Full Timepass‘, then Rajshri‘s ‘Do Hanson Ka Jodaa‘, YRF‘s ‘Khottey Sikke‘, and then again with Rajshri in ‘Pyaar Ka Dard Hai‘. After that I took a break for exploring the film space and I signed a couple of them, out of which one was Ajay Devgn‘s ‘Shivaay‘ which for some reason I wasn’t able to do and the other one was Eros International‘s ‘Saat Kadam‘. I’ve shot for ‘Saat Kadam’ through 2016 and 2017 in cities like Kolkata, Pune, Asansol and Mumbai and then film stars Amit Sadh and Ronit Roy. I took a long break from TV, also because I got married in the end of 2016. I got busy with some other work, like the post-production of my film. Now, I’m all set to venture into the digital space because a lot of amazing producers like Ekta (Kapoor) Ma’am with AltBalaji or Vikram Bhatt or be it Eros or any other production house, they’re creating digital content now. This inspired me to create content for the web putting in money from my pocket in the day and age of Amazon Prime and Netflix. This is one of the toughest projects that I’ve ever gotten into. It’s a lot difficult being a producer and curating something from the scratch. It’s a journey that you embark. Thankfully I have a wonderful team at hand. I’m commencing this with a message oriented music video. We also aim at making 4-5 short films which shall spark debates about social causes like ‘Beti Padhao. Beti Bachao‘ which is very relevant today. I call him an adventure or precisely an event that I’m hoping on as a Producer. I hope and pray I accomplish what I set out for.
Q. There are lot of films that have subjects associated with a social cause. It’s catching popularity and is that the reason why you’ve chosen to kick-start with such a subject?
Nivaan Sen: Genuinely I’m also a part time writer as well, I was keen on it since my childhood. Acting has kept me occupied since so many years. After every project that you do, it’s again a struggle from square one to get another one. I couldn’t concentrate on my writing. But since I was filming for ‘Saat Kadam‘ and had to wait for the post production to commence, I got time to rediscover this passion of mine. Digital space is an ever growing phenomenon. Since this is my first attempt, I didn’t want to take a lot of risk. Hence I wanted to take on relevant subjects and issues that exist in our society. There’s female inequality, ill-treatment and Clean India, the basic issues. If I succeed with my first music video then I along with my team shall take on various subjects.
Q. You’ve worn the cape of a Producer now, so what are you currently going through with this responsibility on your shoulders?
Nivaan Sen: When you talk about the word ‘Producer‘, the images that appear infront of our eyes are Karan Johar, Ekta Kapoor and others. They are the pioneers and legends in this field. I’m just a beginner and title scares me, but the inspiration I draw from them has led me to do something on my own and this is my first experience.
Q. Tell us something about the music video that you’re producing and something about your future projects.
Nivaan Sen: The first project is about Women Empowerment, then we shall deal with the ‘Clean India‘ movement and then we shall take on the importance of our Parents, who are considered a burden by a section of the youth. The music video though deals with a troubled relationship between a husband and wife.
The details of what we are shooting shall come out soon but we are going to shoot them all in and around Lucknow. A group of Lucknow based YouTubers approached us to make content for their YouTube channel. There’s Dr. Sangharsh Rao, a female RJ and Toxic Teens lending their support for collaborations.
Q. The films that we see today also deal with female-centric issues or issues that as audiences our society was not comfortable watching before. But there’s still some kind of hesitance from the society in general and hideous crimes against women that still exist. It is said that films help in mirroring our society and help in bringing about a change, what more should be done to stop all this?
Nivaan Sen: Today, we have a strong social networking strength, we get to know about such incidents a lot more. It’s been happening since forever but we are getting to know about it more. We didn’t have a proper platform to protest against such crimes before, we didn’t bother of things until they were happening to us. It’s the social networking platforms that have led Supreme Court to grant hanging for those rapists who molest and rape girls under the age of 12 years. Through cinema we can highlight such issues and provide solution to bring awareness. I hope as a Producer I can bring such issues to the forefront.
Q. Considering every producer is venturing into the digital arena. Do you think it is the future of entertainment?
Nivaan Sen: As an actor or film lover, I cannot be biased to any platform but I have to agree that audiences want to be catered with different subjects. Indian youth watches these Netflix and Amazon Prime shows and go about saying we don’t make such films but that’s not true, we are heading towards that. According to the economic law of satisfaction, you can be fed something that you like until a period of time and a level of satisfaction, the graph comes down eventually. There’s a saturation point with regards to Hindi television now. There has to be variation for TV shows too. Saas Bahu shows need to start doing something new. Digital space for entertainment serves a s a saviour for audiences looking for something new and that’s why Amazon Prime and Netflix find one of their biggest consumers in our country. There is no harm in experimentation today.
Q. How different or similar is it working on Television and films?
Nivaan Sen: Television is a fast moving medium of entertainment where you don’t get the opportunity to think and act on. As an actor you just have to be on the sets early morning and you get a script half an hour earlier and are expected to act your heart out. Filmmaking has a bound script, there’s a defined character and you know what exactly you have to execute as an actor. You know what you have to portray. TV works on TRP and the story can take any kind of diversion, a loving husband an turn into a gruesome murderer of his wife without making much sense. One cannot expect consistency through our TV shows. Digital shows work on cinematic methods and bound scripts. There are seasons and limitations to the story. TV is a money making machine, while cinema and digital shows are open to experimentation.
Q. Tell us something about your marriage and how are you maintaining your long distance relationship?
Nivaan Sen: It’s been an year since my marriage. Before the wedding my wife (Neelu Mahadur) and I had an understanding because my wife she doesnt stay here she stays in Thailand. She’s born and brought up in Bangkok and her forefathers had settled there. In India she belongs from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. We had decided to visit each other for a couple of years for a few days or months, whenever we would be free. We do have plans to settle in Mumbai though.
Q. Tell us something about how your love story flourished.
Nivaan Sen: My love story began on social media. This was during the Orkut days and there was a contemporary platform too. I wasn’t too fond of social media those days. She was my girlfriend back then and today she’s my wife. It was in 2007-08 when she got in touch with me when I was doing ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii‘. It was in 2010-11 when I was doing ‘Do Hanson Ka Jodaa‘ and I had proposed her. We had never met before. We had only seen each other in pictures. You may have heard on this happening in movies but there were these sentiments within me that were indicating towards Love. I was determined to marry her. One fine day I called her up and proposed to her over a call. She said Yes and towards the end of 2016 we were husband and wife.
Q. How difficult is it to maintain a long distance relationship in the day and age of dating apps, and especially for someone who belongs to the glamour industry?
Nivaan Sen: Outsiders view this industry in a very bad light. They believe that there are no honest people out here. But that’s not completely true, my experience says there are good and bad people in any industry. Focused people are doing what they set out for. If you know your goals and responsibilities, then nothing and nobody can divert you. A person can only do one great thing and the focus has to be that.
Q. You’ve been in the industry for 13 to 14 years now, how have you seen Bollywood and Hindi television transition?
Nivaan Sen: Earlier, be it 80s, 90s or early 2000’s, we wouldn’t be able to express our views much due to lack of social media. Today our opinions have become global. We are more aware of what is coming when and on what platform, there is a hype about everything. There was a family drama and comedy format that was being followed before, even on TV here were limited shows. We have variety today.
Q. What are your views on Nepotism?
Nivaan Sen: I don’t want to be diplomatic. It’s a blunt truth that Nepotism exists. But it’s not the only saving grace for an actor to have a silver spoon. Every star kid would have been a star kid today. There are a lot of failures who serve as an example too. But then we have legends like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan who are iconic and had no filmy background. History is witness that the biggest superstars hadn’t had a nepotistic background. There’s a lot of competition today, only talent can survive.
Q. Every actor has an up and down graph, how do you keep yourself positive through out?
Nivaan Sen: In my case, I’ve been extremely lucky. Since my reality show days till now, the people that I’ve met are counted among the most successful actors. It’s a roller coaster ride. One can’t always win, we weren’t designed that way by God. Everyone has to taste some amount of failure and rise from that. Every dawn has a day! I’m inspired by my fellow actors, they motivate me to do better.
Q. What message would you like to give out to those people who come to Mumbai to become actors?
Nivaan Sen: I recently saw a post by Deepika Padukone, who is this year’s only Indian actress to be in the 100 Most Influential People‘s list, where she said there is no elevator to success, you’ll have to take the staircase. Hardwork is all that matters, and determination and focus are it’s tools. There are no excuses to going up there. You maybe from an influential background but for survival only hardwork and talent helps.
Q. Which are those directors whose work you truly admire?
Nivaan Sen: I admire a lot of directors, especially the newer lot. There’s Sujoy Ghosh, Shoojit Sircar, Anurag Kashyap, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sreejit Mukherjee (director of ‘Begumjaan‘), Dibakar Banerjee and the likes. These are geniuses I would love to work with.
Q. How much of an influence do you think a director has on an actor in shaping his/ her performance?
Nivaan Sen: 100%. An actor is a puppet who is made to play by the Captain of the Ship, who is a director. Even a bad actor can do wonders with great direction. Some average actors go onto win National awards after working under an amazing director’s direction.
Q. Is there any film or character that you saw recently where you felt or wished you did it?
Nivaan Sen: I did feel so but I wouldn’t want to mention is because it takes away from the honesty and passion that the actor must have put in his role. I would love to do good cinema.
Q. How do you keep yourself so young and fit?
Nivaan Sen: I’ve been into sports since childhood. Boxing, football, 100 and 200 meters races and I was a district level player as well. I’ve been a sports freak. After coming to Mumbai and perusing an acting career, that had to be pushed aside but since I’m fond of fitness, I try and keep my regime followed. It comes by itself.
Q. Is there a genre that you want to explore in future?
Nivaan Sen: I want to do a thriller. It’s my favourite genre and then comes drama. Crime dramas intrigue me. I like comedy too.