In conversation with Arun Kaul
1. Hello Nitibha, please tell us about yourself.
I am a 26 year old business graduate. My first job straight out of college was as an Account Strategist with Google India for 2.5 years after which I quit to take part and become the youngest contestant of India’s biggest reality show Bigg Boss and ended up surviving in it for 3 months - and soon after I gained popularity and am now working full time as a social media influencer and content creator, catering to almost a million people worldwide on a daily basis.
2. Congratulations on your performances so far in your different ventures, including the Big Boss show. Tell us how you acquired your love and skills for performance, as well as about your other pursuits and passions.
I was always very active and interested in the extracurriculars. I took part in all school dances as a kid, debates, poetry recitation- later as a teen- i joined street jazz dance classes- much to my parents opposition- since they thought I was already doing too much. But when I would set my eyes on something- I would be stubborn and get it- because I was always so passionate about the arts. I was in my school choir till 12th grade, and then in my college music band- would take part in many singing competitions across the country, I was also the extracurricular captain in my school. Basically- I wanted to do it all- and I would always be up for exciting challenges and experiences which drove me to do so much. Even in college- I organized corporate events, a TED Talk, volunteered for social organizations, won India’s first mobile app development contest, took part in beauty pageants- Miss India, won a few, lost a few others but I just wouldn’t stop trying and experimenting with new passions and that’s possibly what drove me to take part in Bigg Boss despite doing so well in a company that people only dream of working at.
3. The audiences loved you and kept you in the Big Boss house even over some established celebrities. What is your feeling after this achievement? Share some of your best experiences in the Big Boss house.
I honestly feel grateful for surviving that long in the Bigg Boss house- but I also am clueless as to why the audience loved me so much since I was one of the quieter- more decent/less controversial contestants and historically- the ones that make their presence felt the most are the ones that survive on the show till the end. Maybe the audience saw the good in me and wanted to save the girl who was just being herself, maintaining her dignity and also having a blast at the same time.
4. Nitibha, please let us know about your interest in the arts and performance and what inspired you to get into the entertainment industry? What gave you the courage and conviction to forge your own path?
Well, I believe winners are the ones who dare to dream big and take risks. I was obviously very apprehensive of quitting such a well settled job to take part in a show that was so uncertain- but I knew- if I didn’t make this decision- I would be at the risk of leading an ordinary life and also of looking back years later and regretting sticking around with the “safe” option.
5. Tell us about any challenges that have been a part of your life. Tell our young readers how you are handling the challenges with a positive attitude.
Well, being “online” and on social media all the time does take a toll on you. Be it social media trolling, hate comments or comparison with fellow bloggers/influencers- there’s a lot that can affect you and your mental health. But important thing is- to treat it like your job and be professional about it- to disconnect and spend quality time with friends and family and not think of posting it on social media and to not get bogged down by criticism and keep creating content without fear of judgment.
6. You had a nice job in Google. What makes you committed to not only finding time for the arts (singing, acting, performance) but pursuing these as a career option in the entertainment industry?
Chasing big dreams and bigger goals has always been a part of me, and sticking around in a 9 to 5 job behind a desk was never for me- the drive to travel the world, experience new things every day and follow my passion keeps me committed to pursuing this career.
7. Tell us about some of your past failures and achievements. How have you responded in such contrasting situations?
Failure is the stepping stone to success- no one can be successful without making their fare share of mistakes. One such mistake for me was moving to Bombay right after Bigg Boss- I was smitten by the sudden fame- that I thought I wanted to pursue a career in acting- which was never my dream- but something that came naturally after being on a platform like BB. I got many offers- but luckily nothing figured out because my heart wasn't in it. Alongside I had started posting religiously on social media and also started my Youtube channel- and slowly yet steadily I realized my passion lied in creating content as ME and not as a character defined by a script or a director- and I decided to move back to Delhi to pursue my dream of working as a social media influencer which is what I do now, and I couldn't have been happier with that decision.
8. Tell us some interesting behind the scenes bits from the Big Boss show.
Well the most interesting thing- was the fact- that there were many moments on the show that were not telecasted on TV when we wouldn't be doing much inside the house- and every time we would be free, I would get super duper sleepy. And fun fact- no one is allowed to sleep in the house during the day- so every time I would doze off, this blaring alarm would go off and everyone would come running to look for me and wake me up, haha.
9. We at Shehjar believe that performing arts is a very positive outlet for our young adults to direct their creative energies. What are your suggestions for other young adults who may want to overcome their shyness regarding public performances?
Do not do what 99% of the world is doing, strive to be a part of the 1% by chasing some extraordinary dreams. Don't be afraid to take risks, this life is too precious to be wasted on doing something that doesn't spark joy in your life. When you follow your passion- everything- money, fame and success will come to you automatically so don't be afraid and grab every opportunity that comes your way like its your last.
10. What are your plans going forward?
I intend on creating world class content on all my platforms consistently in my pursuit of becoming the best social media influencer in the world. Content that not just entertains people, but also brings joy to them and inspires them to chase their dreams.
Parents: Sulekha & Sanjay
1. Hello Sulekha and Sanjay: Our compliments for raising two wonderful kids Nitibha and Kartikeya. Please tell us about yourselves, your backgrounds, how you met, your travels, your family?
Reply Sanjay: I am born and brought up in Srinagar, Kashmir. We had an ancestral house in Karan Nagar where I have spent my entire childhood and my college days. I did my schooling from Tyndal Bisco school and thereafter Bachelor’s degree in Engineering with specialization in Electronic & Communication from Regional College of Engineering, Srinagar. My father was an engineer and mother, a housewife. Our entire family migrated to Delhi in the year 1990 due to outbreak of terrorism in Kashmir. Initially I joined a company based in Delhi as a service engineer and was promoted to General Manager, sales & service.
After my stint with corporate world for a period of five years, I decided to go on my own and started a firm with 15 employees in the year 1995. Since then I have my own business of sales & servicing of multifunctional devices with a wide range of clients, including but not limited to nationalized/private banks, corporate houses, firms etc.
My wife is also a Kashmiri pandit born in Srinagar but brought up in Delhi. Her parents migrated to Delhi in the year 1965. Her father was a botany Professor and mother a housewife. They are originally from Safakadal, Srinagar. Sulekha has done her entire education from Delhi. She did her graduation from Miranda House, Delhi University with Hons degree in Botany. Thereafter, she did Bachelor’s degree in Law from Delhi University. and thereafter persued her Master degree in Law from Delhi University. Presently, she is working on a senior position with a prestigious law firm in Delhi.
We, as a family, have resolved to travel together, at least once in a year, be it abroad or within India. We have fond memories of our travel to various countries, like Paris, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai etc. We have also visited Kashmir along with the kids and have fond memories of the place that will be cherished for a long time.
2. Nitibha has been in the spotlight lately and for this feature in Shehjar, we will focus on her. Tell us about Nitibha.
Nitibha has always been academically very bright child and scored high marks both in school as well as in college. She did her schooling from St. Thomas School. She was an all-rounder and participated almost in every event organized by School, be it drama, debate, poem recitation etc. She has won many awards and was given recognition certificates by School.
In 2011, she joined the Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, University of Delhi, and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Studies. She was a member of various societies of her college and activily participated in the events organized by the college.
In June 2014, Niibha joined Google and worked as an account strategist under Google Marketing Solutions. Her role at Google India involved customer relationship management, digital advertising and overseeing different aspects of customer services. She left Google in October 2016 to take part in Bigg Boss 10.
Nitibha is also the winner of NDTV’s Nokia Your Wish is My App competition. Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra awarded her the winning prize of Rs one million. She remembered that moment, in an interview, as one of the best moments of her life.
3. Was she always into singing, performance or did she gradually evolve to be who she is now? What have been the most influential factors in her grooming?
Nitibha was interested in singing and performance since early age. She was member of music choir and music society of her school and college respectively. Infact she was interested in modelling and singing since very begining and was a contestant for the Miss India Beauty Pageant in year 2015. She was placed as 1st runner up in Dabur Miss Rose and was crowned first runner up in Delhi Times Fresh Face (Delhi). The panel of judges of Delhi Times fresh face consisted of an eminent panel comprising actor Nikhil Dwivedi, actor Ayushmann Khurrana, FDCI president Sunil Sethi, designers Gauri and Nainika Karan and Namrata Joshipura, Delhi Times editor Anshul Chaturvedi, and Radio Mirchi RJs Stutee and Rohit. This win came on the heels of a long and tough two-month long selection process.
Parental guidance and constant support to explore different avenues have been the major factor that have helped her grooming. Besides our guidance and support, her focus, dedication and positive approach has also played major role in her grooming.
4. What motivates her to put herself out there in the entrepreneurial entertainment industry when she could have grown even in more conventional professions?
To be famous, renowned and recognized by the masses has been the motivational factors that have made her to resign from a secure career at world’s best employer, Google.
5. What have been some of the questions or doubts in your minds as she chose this path forward? What have been the challenges and fears? Have you been able to overcome them now?
As any normal parents, we had certain doubts about the path she has choosen, for example, whether she will be able to manage her dignified image in this so called big bad world, whether she will be given enough opportunities to survive in this filed, whether the so called fame will be short lived and whether she will be able to handle the situations and the people firmly and gracefully.
However, the way she carried herself in the reality show, “Big Boss” has helped us to clear our doubts. She may not be winner of the show, however, she has maintained herself as most non-controversial contestant and never did anything which would have caused embarrassment to us as the parents. She has portrayed herself as an educated, most non-controversial and humble contestant