HAVING grown up in Nepal with parents who were closely connected to theatre and acting, Nirisha Basnett was introduced to films, photography and music from a young age.
She combined that early passion with natural talent and good looks to land acting projects in India, which have made her a rising star to look out for. She has followed up winning performances in diverse dramas with a key role in season two of popular Hotstar series Aashiqana, where she is showcasing her impressive screen presence.
Eastern Eye caught up the young actress you will be hearing more about to discuss Aashiqana, her future hopes, inspirations and New Year’s resolutions.
Which of the characters you have played so far has been closest to your heart?
Currently I am living and breathing Jia from Aashiqana, so she is the closest. Jia is the only character I have played so far who is poles apart from my real self. Just like any actor, I step into the skin of the character, but the real problem starts when I am unable to come out of it. I can’t easily snap in and out from reel to real life. As of now, I feel like I have made a new friend. She is the most mature and smart character I have played, so I love her even more.
How would you describe the character who you play in Aashiqana?
She is mysterious, smart, introverted, vulnerable, in need of real love and has a bag full of secrets. Also, Jia is pretty and has a great sense in fashion. And her long black hair is everyone’s favourite, including mine.
What has acting in Aashiqana been like for you?
My forever dream of being the ‘poster girl’ and that too with a gun in hand, has come true. It’s magic on set, because this is my first proper action show, which is something I have prayed to be a part of for as long as I can remember. It’s a delight because I have the sweetest bond with all my co-actors, including Zayn Ibad Khan, Khushi Dubey, the rest of the family members and especially my onscreen partner Inderjeet Modi, who makes me laugh the hardest.
You are also connected to the crew…
Yes, I also have a great bond with the writer Aanchal Budhiraja and she takes me to a whole different world of writing which is pretty amazing. The rest of the team members from different departments are also extremely respectful, especially the production guys. Not all actors are lucky enough to deal with friendly production people on set. I have had bad experiences in the past, but here it is absolutely different. Everyone is super cool and fun.
Does playing a lead role put any kind of pressure on you?
Lead or no lead, I believe in delivering my acting with all honesty. Frankly, it’s usually much easier to perform under pressure. That’s why I always make sure that I have researched the character and show, so that the performance comes out as natural. I always have my lines memorised completely. For me it’s extra hard work because Hindi isn’t my first language and can be a challenge, but that is my personal pressure.
But yes, pressure can take over a lead actor because you are the brand and face of the show, which means its success or failure comes with your name. That pressure of being a lead actor either takes you to the ‘top’ or makes you hit ‘rock bottom’.
Do you have a dream role?
There are two things I really want to be a part of – a biography and, of course, my forever favourite, action. It would be great if I get to do both genres in one, with a film like Mary Kom. And from the fantasy world, something like Harley Quinn or Wonder Woman.
What do you enjoy watching as an audience member?
I am a sucker for action movies and shows, especially with a girl protagonist – that’s the sexiest thing ever. I also equally enjoy apocalypse and zombie content.
If you could master something new in your career, what would it be?
I want to master weapon fighting. I am already training in stick fighting and Karambit knife too, and hope to deliver it on set someday soon.
What inspires you as an actor?
In all honesty, my life in Mumbai. I made a very challenging decision to move to this city against my family’s wishes and pursue acting because my passion for performing in-front of the camera has been there since childhood. My philosophy now is ‘go hard or go home’.
Tell us a little more about that?
So, I push myself every day, from my health and fitness routine and paying the bills to reaching out to casting directors, auditioning, and working on myself as an actor. I stay focused and get that much-needed inspiration from myself, especially after seeing how far I have come.
Have you made a New Year’s resolution?
It’s just about sticking to my everyday resolutions – to work smart and work hard, talk less and observe more and eat half and walk double. Also, to meditate, manifest, smile often and live in the moment.
Finally, why should we watch Aashiqana?
I think Aashiqana has a unique mix of an emotional love story and edge-of-the-seat thrills. There are mysteries, murders, betrayals, and shocking plot twists, which are married to the sizzling hot romance between our couples.
The show also offers family drama, insights into modern-day problems, and talks about double standards. It has strong characters rooted in their culture, who fight for justice and equality.
Thankfully, this formula has worked because audiences have turned Aashiqana into one of the most viewed shows on all Indian streaming platforms.