Himika Bose: Beyond the ordinary
Actor Himika Bose on battling Bollywood’s body-image norms, being empowered by dance, and making her Malayalam cinema debut
There’s a new generation of artistes foraying into the Indian entertainment industry. They haven’t attended courses at top acting institutes. Nor have they received tutelage from the doyens of theatre. These are naturally-gifted individuals who’ve honed their skills amongst other like-minded people on web platforms like YouTube and Netflix. Nevertheless, their portrayal of out-of-the-box yet relatable characters has helped them conquer the hearts of the discerning urban viewer. Some actors, like Himika Bose, go on to become internet sensations seemingly overnight.
However, before viral content like the hilarious Every Curly Haired Girl and thought-provoking short films like Abnormal gained millions of views, this Mumbai-based artiste had dedicated her life to dance. In fact, it was a dance scholarship offered by popular Indian-Australian choreographer Ashley Lobo that compelled Himika, who originally hails from Kolkata, to shift to the West Coast. So we catch up with the 23-year-old professional danseuse—currently shooting an ad with actor Kriti Sanon—to find out more.
“Dance is what made me who I am today. Acting was never part of the plan. While on a dance scholarship back in 2014-15, I was spotted and asked if I would walk-in for an audition,” explains Himika, over the phone. Fast forward to 2019 and she’s already nabbed dozens of ad campaigns, acted in multiple well-received web shows, and portrayed a good role in the hit film Padman. Now, she’s gearing up for her first Malayalam film titled Valiyaperunnal.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
As an actor, what kind of roles do you find yourself drawn to?
It comes down to how interesting the script is, where I’m going to be placed within it, and the depth my character brings to the overall story. I’m open to all genres, but I find my safe place in humour. It just comes naturally to me, probably because of the sort of laid-back person I am.
On the transition from Bollywood to Mollywood.
When I started my acting career, I had one golden rule: Do things that make you happy! There was no conscious decision to pursue Malayalam films—the story that came my way really piqued my interest as it was realistic. Honestly, it’s a very big opportunity for me. It felt like a natural progression; especially since the lead character in Valiyaperunnal, who I portray, is a dancer.
Even in 2019, there’s unfair pressure on female stars in mainstream cinema to portray a certain body image. How do you handle that?
When I was starting out I fell into that same body-image and appearance trap. It took me some time to become accustomed to the spotlight, accept myself for who I am, and the principles that I’ve grown up with. But moving forward means that I also try to recognise my flaws and work on them.
Any inherent differences between working on web shows like The Insiders or films with large ensemble casts like Jai Mummy Di?
The procedure is similar across platforms and borders. However, in terms of environment, things are slightly more professional in Bollywood: a finish work and wrap-up sort of mood. In the South, there’s a strong heart-to-heart connection with everyone involved in the scene. The outcome is undoubtedly more organic as well. I’m very excited about the direction that Malayalam cinema is headed in.