I’m a creative producer, not a cashier

Niharika says she has learnt from her father, producer Naga Babu’s fall and rise

Update: 2024-03-02 19:11 GMT
Niharika with Naga Babu

Actress Niharika Konidela is always ready to endorse content-oriented projects. She recently backed a short film Saagu, directed by Vinay Ratnam, saying it’s ‘Never give up no matter how hard life hits you’ theme resonated with her.

“I was blown away by how these youngsters made the film. The sweet love story of a husband and wife touched me. I was moved by the resilience and spirit the wife shows in the short,” she says, adding that the message was that you can win in life if you have the right partner. Impressed by the conviction and passion with which the 51-minute film was made, she backed it to broaden the reach. “Saagu offers a fresh perspective on life,” she reveals.

Of late, there has been criticism in the film industry that producers have become mere cashiers and don’t have any say on creative matters. Put that to Niharika, who is also producing films, and she says it is an unfortunate development.

Acknowledging that there are producers who make films for money, she is quick to point out that there are others like Dil Raju, who she looks up to. “He (Raju) understand filmmaking, reads the entire script and knows the language of cinema,” she says. Talking of herself, she asserts, “I am not a cashier but a producer who is quite creative. I sit in on story discussions and offer different perspectives to the creators. I am also open to ideas from the team and give them the freedom to express themselves.” She adds that life as a producer is stressful, yet exciting.

On one hand, Niharika is playing the lead, and on the other, she is producing films and hosting cooking shows on online streaming platforms. She says time management is key to multitasking, and with effective planning, anything can be achieved. “Those who say it’s tough to balance various roles are either taking on more than they can chew or they lack time management,” she feels. The actor credits her production team for good planning and time management.

Her father (Naga Babu) has been a producer too and bankrolled several award-winning films. However, he also experienced the other side of the coin. We ask if he had given her any tips. She says her father is her ‘go-to guy and support system, but “he allowed me to be myself and learn the hard way.” Elaborating, she says, “On several occasions he said the way I work (as a producer) is very different from his style, and he didn’t want to disturb my way of work. He doesn’t put me in a box.” The only advice her father gave her was to be aware of what was happening around her in production, she says, adding, “I have seen him fall down and rise up again as a producer, so I learnt what not to do.”

Niharika draws inspiration from superstars like Chiranjeevi (her uncle) who works hard even at the age of 68. “While my love for cinema is relentless, superstars like my uncle and cousins are a big inspiration,” she says.

Ask the actress what her life mantra is at this point of time, and she replies, “Never lose hope and keep striving constantly. Incidentally, that’s the message of Saagu which is exactly why I backed it!”

On several occasions my father said the way I work (as a producer) is very different from his style, and he didn’t want to disturb my way of work. He doesn’t put me in a box. The only advice he gave was to be aware of what was happening around in the production — NIHARIKA


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