A day after actor Neil Nitin Mukesh turned a year older on January 15, his mother had to be hospitalized for a surgery. “She is well now and recovering. But we were all on tenterhooks,” sighs Neil who has had a rough year.
Many think that he has exhausted his career opportunities. “Please don’t make the mistake of writing me off,” says the well-spoken Neil who turned 32 on January 15.
Neil’s 3 films last year bombed, thereby triggering off speculation on his box office status and future in cinema.
Taking a deep breath and laughing off speculation about his exit from movies Neil says, “Tell me, which showbiz personality doesn’t face ups and downs in his career? My grandfather, the great singer Mukesh was out of work for five years until the songs of ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ brought him back with a bang. People want to portray me as a poor loser? So be it, let them be happy at my expense.”
When the twitter jokes about Neil surfaced on his birthday his family was hurt. “But I told them to lighten up. The fact that people saw humour in my life is enough to bring a smile on my face.”
Neil is practical and sensible enough to realize he doesn’t sell as a solo hero. “Sure, I did three solo-hero films in 2013. But ensemble casts have never been a problem for me. If they were a problem, I wouldn’t have done ‘New York’ with John Abraham or ‘Players’ with Abhishek Bachchan. The character and not footage or billing is my thing. In ‘Players’, I took on the role of a sleazy villain. Which other leading man would do that?”
About his three under-performing films in 2013, Neil analyzes, “Bejoy Nambiar’s ‘David’ is a film I will be proud of for as long as I live. So what if it didn’t work? My performance was deeply satisfying to me. Then, ‘3G’ was a horror film. I had never attempted that genre before and I think it didn’t lose any money for its producers. As for ‘Shortcut Romeo’, it was designed as a massy film with plenty of oomph and music. Bad marketing did the film in.”
Then Neil adds, “I know it’s easy to look for scapegoats and do post-mortems about unsuccessful films. But I genuinely feel I didn’t make a mistake with my films so far. Look, I am only six years old in the film industry. And I’ve worked back-to-back with nine National award winning directors. Now it’s time for me to work with the newer directors.”
Both of Neil’s forthcoming films ‘Ishqeria’ and ‘Dussehra’ are with new directors. “‘Ishqeria’ would be the first one out. It’s slightly behind schedule because the director is getting married. I am excited about it because it’s again a performance-oriented part. I am here to act. I am not here to be a star. A whole new generation of actors has come in after me. I need to buck up.”
About his birthday, Neil says, “I wanted to keep it quiet. But my brother Naman organized this big fancy-dress party for family and selected friends from the film industry. Madhur Bhandarkar, Sophie Choudry, Shweta Pandit and Richa Chadha were there. It was fun. And believe me, my family is not depressed about my career. People say my father singer Nitin Mukesh is unemployed. But he preforms at 4-5 live concerts every month. Even as we speak, he is on a flight to a concert. We are doing well for ourselves, thanks.”