3 Million people in the world think Niharika NM is funny, and we count ourselves amongst those who can’t help but giggle at her impeccable comic timing. The 24-year-old Los Angeles-based Indian influencer rose to fame during the pandemic with her witty and humorous take on Indian eccentricities. She might deploy a thick sardonic Tamilian accent (after all she was raised in Chennai/Bangalore) but it’s the way she delivers the punchlines and talks about relatable issues as well as burning matters that make her such a hit on Instagram.
Niharika NM started her journey on YouTube by documenting her teenage life but soon transitioned to creating 30 second reels on Instagram, soon gaining a gamut of Indian scrollers. She is also amongst the breed of influencers who have been chosen as the global ambassador of Creators for Change, a YouTube initiative that uses content creators to generate awareness and dialogue about social issues. More recently, she made several appearances at the Cannes Film Festival serving looks in custom Shantnu & Nikhil outfits. In a candid conversation with the influencer, Niharika NM about her journey and call of cinema.
Niharika NM shares her journey and exclusively wearing Shantnu & Nikhil at the Cannes Film Festival:
What excites you about the world of cinema?
I’m actually a huge movie buff. I think while growing up, my family’s bonding time was watching movies together. My dad is also a huge movie buff. Any new movie, given that we speak more than one language- Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, English came out, we would watch it in theatres because my dad would schedule movie time for us every week. So growing up, I absolutely let my life be controlled by movie narratives really. I think my career is also hugely impacted by the kind of movies I watched growing up, and the sense of humour that I picked up. It’s been a huge part of my life and has carved me into who I am today and the personality that I have. I feel films have the power to make us understand various emotions and that’s incomparable to anything else. It was the most exciting thing for me to be able to watch a bunch of incredible films at the Cannes Film Festival because I would have never imagined being able to do something like that.
Tell us about candid moments and highlights of your journey at Cannes 2023.
Firstly, the biggest highlight of my Cannes journey is being able to watch the world premiere of ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’. I am such a huge fan of action movies like Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, all the Bond movies, Resident Evil, zombie movies, and the Mummy franchise. I loved all of them so much growing up and to be able to be at a premiere for Indiana Jones was simply a dream come true moment for me.
I also watched a per-war based French film, which actually was not my cup of tea, but it was very interesting to see art films that I actually never had the chance to watch before. So I think I was introduced to a new type of cinema there. I also had the honour of watching ‘Kennedy’ by Anurag Kashyap. It was incredible to see Indian cinema being celebrated in the same theatre and same platform as a Martin Scorsese or a Wes Anderson film. I felt so much pride. It feels like a personal achievement, truly! I’m just proud that Indian cinema is also being celebrated at the same level as international films. We have so many amazing films. So I’m glad and proud of the whole team, Zee Studios, Anurag Kashyap, and the actors for presenting a great show at Cannes Film Festival this year.
Four looks so far at Cannes, each in Shantnu & Nikhil and each distinctly different.
Honestly, Shantnu & Nikhil are one of my favourite designers ever. I absolutely love their clothes. It wasn’t like I planned to do exclusively Shantnu & Nikhil until I happened to try a bunch of outfits which I fell in love with instantly. I’ve never truly experimented with fashion and style because I felt like it was always so daunting. I always thought that people would judge you if you try to step out of your comfort zone or dress a certain way which is not very common until I got over that. Now I try to put myself out there because I want to and I feel comfortable in certain outfits. I had fun dressing up and with every look from Shantnu & Nikhil, I felt beautiful. Not even a single look made me feel uncomfortable and that’s a lot for me to say because, in my head, I am always like ‘I don’t think this looks good on me or I don’t think I can pull this off’. I’m very critical of everything I do or wear. I end up criticising myself in my head but for every single outfit that I wore at Cannes from Shantnu & Nikhil, I felt beautiful and I didn’t know that was possible till now. Whenever I used to try outfits and they didn’t look good on me, I used to feel sad. But Shantnu & Nikhil’s outfits fit me like a glove. And to have incredible designers like them custom make an outfit for me, I felt honoured and grateful. I’m very emotional about my experience with Shantnu & Nikhil because I just felt so lovely and I don’t think I’ve felt like that in a really long time about myself and my body in extravagant outfits like that.
Do you think it’s important for Indian attendees to wear Indian designers on international red carpets?
I think people are allowed to wear whatever they want to. I’m just very proud that I get to represent incredible designers from India. I also think we have such magnificent designers here that deserve to be showcased on international carpets as well. Having said that, since fashion is so subjective, people can wear whatever they want from any brand that they want. But I’m personally just happy about the designers that I collaborated with because I truly loved each and every outfit that I wore.
Content creators now have a global impact. Your thoughts on this and your journey?
When I started out as an 18-year-old making YouTube videos while pursuing an engineering degree, not in my wildest dreams, did I imagine getting this far, let alone content creation getting this far. It just felt like something we all did as a hobby, and never thought about it as something I could potentially do as a career in the long term. It wasn’t even a thing then and now almost a decade later, when I retrospect, it feels surreal to have a career out of what I used to do as a passion. It is like my dream job where I get to do what I love every single day. I wake up excited about my job because it’s not something that somebody expects of me, but something that I want to do. I truly recognise how lucky I am to be able to do what I love and I’m so grateful for the insane amount of love that I receive which I cannot comprehend. I get teary-eyed even when I think about the amount of love I receive.
Creators are now breaking through global platforms and I think it’s incredible. I love that there is a bridge between traditional media and social media and there’s so much ‘jugalbandi’ happening. I would love to see creators get opportunities and thrive and I’m just so excited to see where this goes. I hope more and more people realise that your girl or guy next door can go from being extremely relatable to hitting those dreams that are on your bucket list which reaffirms faith in the fact that if this person can do it then I can do it too. You don’t have to be born into a family that will make you a star or you know you can build it for.
Hero Image: Courtesy Featured Image: Courtesy Niharika NM.