THE RELEASE of Bypass Road spells a lot of firsts for brothers Neil and Naman Nitin Mukesh. Being Neil’s first film as writer and producer and Naman’s first as director, it is unknown territory for the brothers to tread on. They, however, feel their love for thrillers and want to constantly churn out good content. Excerpts from an interview:
Naman dropped out of college because of his passion for films and has been working since an early age. How much did his hands-on experience help?
Neil: I was the reason behind him dropping out of college. I knew he was ready to enter the fray quite early and with all due respect to the education system, I am not someone who follows norms. I don’t feel that one has to be a graduate and have a degree on paper and then not learn much actually. I took Naman under my wing from an early age and saw the passion he had for films. In college, I felt he was there simply because there was pressure to be there. However, he started coming with me to the sets since he was 15 and he loved it. So when he was 20, I felt he was ready to take the plunge. I gave him the option to work with me and he agreed and so did our family.
Naman: I was in class 10 when I decided I wanted to be a film director. Neil bhaiya always says that he brought to fruition our grandfather’s dream of becoming an actor. I’m now proud to be able to live my father’s dream, which was to be a director. I was never a good student in college but always excelled in extra-curricular activities and projects related with films. However, I hated the theory part of it. I decided a couple of weeks before my final year board exams that I did not wish to appear for them and joined Eros Films. The head of the mass media department of Jai Hind College came over to convince my dad and brother to change my mind but I had horse blinders on. I did not budge. Looking back, I think I took the right call.
Coming from a well-known family, have you ever felt the added pressure to deliver? What were the challenges?
Neil: Well, it certainly wasn’t easy for me being the son and grandson of such famous singers. This is because when you take the leap, people expect you to hit the heights of success almost immediately. Living up to those expectations is very hard and I had to knock on a lot of doors and endure a lot of struggle and bagged Johnny Gaddaar (2007) — which I would say was me announcing myself in the industry. I feel it is harder for Naman as he has always been known to be the brother of a Bollywood actor.
Naman: I was never treated differently when I was working and dropping out of college was not as easy as it seems. I did feel guilty. It often happens that when I meet someone, I tell them I am Nitin Mukesh’s son, or Mukesh Chand Mathur’s grandson and they tell me how much they enjoy their music and all of that comes from the goodwill my family has created. So, when bhaiya started acting and I started directing, the bar was already so high, it was like jumping onto a running train.
The film has been produced as part of your new venture, NNM Films. When did you start writing the film? And when did Naman come on board?
Neil: I started writing the story while shooting for Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015) and it took me a year to complete it. During that time, I kept Naman in the loop and he kept sharing his inputs. There was a lot of back and forth. I wanted to make content for Indian cinema which had international appeal to it. I also wanted it to be something that belongs to a platform we are already exposed to. Naman shares my love for thrillers and reads a lot. He knows the industry better than me and I felt he was ready to be the main man. Looking back now, I am pleasantly surprised at the job he has done.
Naman: When I heard the plot, I was instantly hooked. The film is a thriller which revolves around a fashion prodigy Vikram Kapoor and his life. There is a twist when Vikram meets with an accident the same night that a woman named Sarah (Shama Sikander) gets murdered and he is now a prime suspect in the case. The story is about a looming threat that surrounds Vikram in the aftermath of the incident. I know that thrillers are my brother’s forte and it was a pleasure directing him.
What is the relationship that you two share on and off set?
Neil: On the sets we were always on the same wavelength and had a very good working relationship. Of course we had creative arguments. But he is also my baby brother and I am very protective of him. Another thing I was worried about during this film was the commercial side of things and there have been some stressful times.
Naman: I am glad that he is back doing what he does best and that is thrilling the audience. I feel lucky to have him around both on and off the set. On many occasions, he chose not to overrule me even though I am sure he felt like.