The diligent Neil Nitin Mukesh has finally lived his dream by starring in Wazir with his childhood idol Amitabh Bachchan. Currently busy with the promotions of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Neil says that his character is once again craftily layered with multiple shades.
The audience has always seen you play negative and grey characters. Even in your latest film Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, you are playing a grey character. If given a chance, would you like to experiment by playing a comic character?
Wow! Hardcore comedy is a serious business. A little far-fetched but not impossible. At this <g data-gr-id="138">point</g> I’d like to break away from the stereotype. As much as I love the grey shades, I’d want to do maybe do more <g data-gr-id="79">light hearted</g> romantic comedies, family dramas, biopics, documentaries. A film needs a protagonist as well as <g data-gr-id="135">antagonist</g>, the significance of both these character is in equal proportions. When I realised that a film can ride entirely on the shoulders of a hero and every hero needs a villain to look good on screen, that’s when I decided to play characters that had layers and intensity. Comedy is something that requires a skill that is developed over a period of time, it’s something that comes from within you, it’s a specialized art form. I do have a great sense of humour that can be explored in front of the <g data-gr-id="131">camera</g> but that can wait a <g data-gr-id="132">while .</g> At this juncture I don’t want to experiment with my acting graph, I’m treading a little cautiously. I’ve achieved a lot at 33 and there’s lots I’m looking forward to doing in the future.
Can you describe how you felt when you first entered the sets of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo? Did the environment make you nervous?
A Sooraj Barjatya film has the most stress-free shooting milieu and everyone including the technical team, production unit are treated in a very hospitable fashion- I don’t remember <g data-gr-id="81">Sooraji</g> losing his cool ever. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a film that will help you revive your value system. When you go to watch a Sooraj Barjatya film you want to be that person you see on-screen when you come out of the theatre. I’m sure whoever comes to watch this film will go back becoming a better person. This is a way <g data-gr-id="82">Sooraji</g> gives back to society. From the <g data-gr-id="107">day</g> I met him there was this bond. I’ve worked with a lot of <g data-gr-id="106">directors</g> but the respect I hold for <g data-gr-id="101">Sooraji</g> doesn’t compare with anyone else. As a <g data-gr-id="115">person</g> <g data-gr-id="102">Sooraji</g> brings the best out of me and that translates onto the screen. He is one <g data-gr-id="103">story maker</g> who brings cinema to life, it’s more real and less <g data-gr-id="104">reel</g>. He is very modest and never restricts the creative bent of mind of an artist. <g data-gr-id="105">Sooraji</g> is always encouraging us to reinvent our working techniques, he never <g data-gr-id="111">demands for</g> <g data-gr-id="112">anything</g> but yet he somehow has a knack of attaining the very best from each of his actors. It was my mum, Nishi’s dream to see me work in a Sooraj Barjatya film and I hope I’ve done full justice to her dream. My character is once again craftily layered with multiple shades and it has shaped up so beautifully.
How excited are you for Wazir? Tell us more about your role in this particular film.
I’m sharing screen space with my childhood idol, Mr. Bachchan and that’s something that’s ticked off my bucket list. Bejoy is a good friend and when he narrated the script to me, I was very drawn in because my character is very pivotal to the entire film.
When you decide to sign a film, what is most important for you? Is it the script, production house, co-actors or the character you’ve been given?
For <g data-gr-id="128">me</g> a few things are important. A- what is the story , if I connect with the story and want to watch a film like what I <g data-gr-id="125">heard ,</g> I’d love to be a part of it, B -who is directing this story. The captain of the ship is the most important person on the film. It’s his vision that eventually takes shape, C - what is my character and how important is it to the script and <g data-gr-id="80">screen play</g>. If the films story is affected by the absence of the character offered for me to essay on screen, I will definitely do it irrespective of it being the protagonist or antagonist or the length and D - who is the producer. I have earlier gone through my movie not releasing correctly or releasing at all. As an artist we hope and pray that our art reaches out to people: our biggest achievement is people appreciating our work. E- I don’t handpick characters depending on the length of the <g data-gr-id="127">role</g> but I analyze the strength of the character that I need to portray. If you take my character out from the film and if the film looks baseless then I will not approve of portraying that character because a film needs to also be bound by a very strong script. But on the other hand even if I’m required just for a scene but if the plot of the film revolves around that scene, I’ll jump right into it. Every role needs to be different from the previous one, it needs to push me to the brink. The day you tell yourself that this is the genre that I’m a <g data-gr-id="139">king</g> of, you’re doomed for failure. An actor is always learning and unlearning because the fine arts are all about a constantly changing module that no one can ever perfect. One of the true benefits of being an actor is to be able to create characters that are so far removed from who you are. That is truly exciting. There’s an instinct you have and you’d rather succeed or fail on that instinct than let the mind over-analyse. There is a gut feeling because you connect to a role or a character. If you’re engaged into something, you feel others will connect with it too. If you don’t like a <g data-gr-id="126">role</g> but someone tells you that people will like it, then there’s no point doing it.
As an actor and a creative person, what do you think is the most important element that keeps a person persistent towards his/her goal?
For me, the most important facet is being grounded, disciplined and committed. The minute you let success get the better of you, you become vulnerable to losing sight of your individuality and then the ego takes over. At the end of the day, you have to be strong inside out. You need to be very unambiguous about your vision and your motivation can’t be half-hearted, you have to be a believer and trust your dreams, don’t become a victim to peer pressure and don’t be a part of the rat race, keep a positive frame of mind and surround yourself with people who have a clear conscience. Keep your circle tight and selective- the company you keep eventually defines who you really are and they are the ones who eventually form your support system when the going gets tough. It’s a package and every element needs to be worked upon diligently to really build that castle in reality.