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December 4, 2020

‘No hero is complete until he has a villain’

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IMAGE: Neil Nitin Mukesh with Adah Sharma in Bypass Road.

Naman Nitin Mukesh is all set to make his directorial debut with the thriller, Bypass Road, and his brother Neil can’t stop raving.

“Naman’s film has started an idea never attempted before in our films in the suspense genre. It started developing during my last schedule of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo,” Neil tells Subhash K Jha.

“The scripts coming my way were not exciting and people would seldom ask what sort of film I would like to do,” Neil adds. “The new phase for Indian cinema was around the corner with digital platforms coming out and educating audiences to world cinema and genres they were not aware of. That’s when I started developing Bypass Road. It’s a suspense film with a treatment we rarely see in Indian cinema.”


IMAGE: Neil with his younger brother Naman 

Naman has assisted directors like Abbas-Mustan and Bejoy Nambiar earlier.

“I would often sit with him to see if I was going the right way,” Neil says. “I feel today’s generation is rebellious in their thought and that is what I wanted to show in this script. Naman brought that on the table. Once I nearing the completion of the the draft, I asked him to direct. I also gave him the option of casting an actor of his choice. I’m glad he saw me playing the protagonist.”

Neil claims the two brothers are inseparable.

“We are like two bodies, one mind,” he says. “Although he pampers me and values my involvement, he is technically sorted and in many ways, more mature than me. I can only suggest as a writer or actor but the final call is his.”

Neil intends to turn director as well.

“The process of making films is such a creative high. Seeing your vision come to life is a dream come true. I have been an assistant myself, and although acting will always be my number one passion, filmmaking is definitely right up there,” he says. 


IMAGE: Neil and Prabhas on the sets Saaho. Photograph: Kind courtesy Neil Nitin Mukesh/Instagram

Meanwhile, Neil has been playing the ‘bad boy’ in a slew of successful South Indian films.

“It has not been a conscious decision but antagonists attract me. They are the layered drivers of the film. No hero is complete until he has a villain,” he says.

“But off screen, like most iconic villains like Pransaab, Amrish Puri sir, I am also quite soft-natured and kind-hearted,” he clarifies.

“Times have changed; cinema has erased the thin barriers between language and creativity. India is a big nation with multiple languages and great technicians, who execute masterpieces in every language. As an actor, if people boast of working in Hollywood, I would rather boast of working in India.”

“In this day and age, when films like Baahubali are making cinema-goers a united front, I was lucky to have been a part of this evolution and done a film like Saaho, which we shot simultaneously in many languages.”


IMAGE: Right to left, Swara Bhasker, Salman Khan, Aashika Bhatia, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Sonam Kapoor in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.

“I worked on Kaththi with AR Murugadoss. I won critical acclaim and box office success. I was the first North Indian boy to be awarded the SIIMA for his debut film in a popular category — Best Actor in a Negative role. I am probably one of the few actors to have made an unconventional debut in Johnny Gaddar.

“I have always tried to push myself as an actor. I do not want to be restricted by a certain stereotype or expectation. I like being unpredictable. That is why I have done roles like Saat Khoon Maaf, David, Johnny Gaddar, Indu Sarkar, Wazir and Players, to name a few.

“At the same time, I like to balance the commercial cinema with big-ticket films like New York, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Golmaal Again.”

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