Retro Chic

I have been choosing films that I’d love to watch. Johnny Gaddaar was unconventional but it was a commercial film.

Written by DIPTI NAGPAUL D’SOUZA | Published:February 20, 2009 12:34 am

Neil Nitin Mukesh may be taking up unconventional projects but he believes that cinema should be larger-than-life

You debuted in Johnny Gaddaar with a character that had grey shades. Your next release Aa Dekhen Zara is a sci-fi meets superhero movie. As a newbie in the industry,have you not been taking quite a few risks?
I have been choosing films that I’d love to watch. Johnny Gaddaar was unconventional but it was a commercial film. And if Krrish and Koi Mil Gaya were successful entertainers,then I don’t see why Aa Dekhen Zara is risky. Yes,it does have a larger-than-life element—a camera that predicts the future— but the treatment is simple. In fact,I have always loved such films. I grew up watching Amitabh Bachchan’s Toofan or Shahenshah.

But currently the common man is the hero. Aren’t you then stuck in the era of your father and grandfather?
I may sound like a follower of old-school but cinema,to me,is supposed to be larger than life. I miss the powerful dialogues and well-etched characters of yesteryear.

Aren’t the most memorable characters in cinema the ones that have been larger than life? Like Gabbar Singh?

You had quite a few offers,so why did you trust debut directors Sriram Raghavan and Jehangir Surti to start your career with?
I was a debutant once and they trusted me too. Besides,they all belong to the same camp of progressive filmmaking. We all envision cinema the same way. Their style of filmmaking,though contemporary,incorporates a retro feel,the way Johnny Gaddaar did.

You have sung the title track of Aa Dekhen Zara. Are you,like Farhan Akhtar,trying to explore alternate careers in entertainment?
In the heyday of Indian cinema,an actor could not be cast in the lead unless he could sing his own songs. So what’s the big deal now? I love to experiment with all aspects of filmmaking and I enjoyed being a part of the entire process. But singing isn’t a career option.

There’s a lot of promising new talent in the industry now,like Imraan Khan,Ranbir Kapoor,Abhay Deol. Where do you see yourself in the picture?
I grew up looking at the entire industry as one big family. I have heard stories of how Hrishikesh Mukherjee used to shoot three films on the same set and all the actors would sit and chat over tea together.

I don’t see anyone as competition or threat; they’re colleagues. The way the industry is growing,there’s work for each one of us.

But unlike your colleagues,you have been keeping a low-profile.
That’s simply because I don’t have much to talk about. I am just one-film old right now. If you mean why I am missing from the gossip columns,I think that’s because I live a regular life when I’m not shooting. I spend time with my family,play Nintendo with my brother and chill out with friends.

Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny was supposed to be

your second release. Why has it been delayed?
The film travelled to a couple of festivals and was applauded. But the delay is primarily because Sudhir Mishra shot extensively on-location in Mumbai,apart from recreating Colaba. It should release sometime in June. But Kabir Khan’s New York releases before that,in April.

What made you sign Madhur Bhandarkar’s Jail?
I have appreciated Madhur’s work in the past and I like my character in the film,which is that of a prisoner. It’s a difficult one to play and one may not be able to relate to it easily. But Madhur is helping me out and guiding me.

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