In the years that she has been part of the entertainment industry, Niharika Konidela has donned many hats. Starting out as a presenter on the dance reality show Dhee, she then became an actor and starred in films such as Oka Manasu (2016) and Suryakantham (2018). She later became a producer and produced a host of shows under her production company Pink Elephant Pictures. Although not involved as a producer, she now stars in the Telugu adaptation of the British sitcom Dead Pixels. The series is produced by BBC Studios India along with Tamada Media.
“They are meticulous in their writing,” she says when asked what she can take away from the series as a producer, “My character, Gayathri, is so similar to the original character Meg, but is different enough to exist here. They have got the cultural differences right without turning the character into a completely different person. This can only be possible with great writing and pre-production. I believe a film or a show has to first be a hit on paper. You cannot make a script that works only 50% and then expect the actors and technicians to take it to the next level. The script has to work fully on paper first and then the rest will make it better. That is what has been achieved in Dead Pixels.”
The show centers on three friends who are obsessed with an online role-playing game. The story then follows how their real lives affect their online persona and vice versa. Another place that blurs the line between the real and the virtual in the world is social media. Niharika believes that being an actor, it is required to have a certain engagement on social media.
She says, “I know of some people who post everything about their lives on social media and I have nothing against it. If you feel like sharing it, go ahead. Some people only choose to put the good parts out while some post fabricated versions of their reality. We are not having the time of our lives and partying all the time. I heard this somewhere, when you speak about your problems half of the people will not understand your perspective and the other half will like that you have problems. That is what I believe in as well. Anything I put on social media is what I am fine talking about. If I don’t post about it, be it something private, it is because I do not want to talk about it.”
Niharika has had her share of trolls and negativity on social media. She mentions that she noticed herself becoming quiet after being exposed to negative feedback online. While she has become stronger since, she admits that one shouldn't bank on social media for validation.
“We always tend to gravitate towards negativity and the negative feedback we get from someone. I have realised that I will not take validation or criticism from social media. Find your tribe. It can be your family or a group of friends you trust. Only take their opinion to your heart. If they praise you or criticise you, you can take it.”
While being an actor automatically puts her in the forefront, what makes her presence felt, even more, is her relationship with the Chiranjeevi family. Her father is noted actor and producer Nagendra Babu and her brother is actor Varun Tej.
“I used to feel bad when I was criticised a lot during my initial films,” she says when asked about how she deals with the pressure of being part of an influential family, “I used to be scared because the media would ask me an opinion about something and I didn’t know what to say due to the fear of being misinterpreted. But now, I have become stronger. I cannot detach myself from my family and just say I am an individual person. I am Nagendra Babu’s daughter, I am Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan’s niece. I will embrace it till my last breath. Now, if I am asked something, I will say what I feel but the media should also understand that it is me saying it. It is not the opinion of my father or my brother. They have an opinion of their own and I have mine.”