His powerful debut film Johnny Gaddaar has proved to be a bit of wimp at the box-office. But Neil Mukesh who stars as a cold-blooded money-minded killer in Sriram Raghavan's noire film is far from daunted.
"I agree Johnny Gaddaar is a box-office disappointment," Neil admits four days after his debut tanks. "We came during the month of Ramzan when thirty percent of the (Muslim) population likes to stay away from movies. But I'm still hopeful. Not a single person who has seen Johnny Gaddaar has disliked the film or my performance." No regrets? "None at all! I'm glad I started my career through the unconventional route. Even my second film Sudhir Mishra's Tera Kya Hoga Johnny is highly unconventional. I wanted to prove myself as an actor before I do the routine hero-giri. Everyone thought I was trying to be an actor because I thought of myself good-looking. Not so! I chose acting because I didn't have the discipline to be a singer like my grandfather Mukesh. Even my father Nitin Mukesh couldn't be another Mukesh."
Having done the most unconventional debut ever Neil Mukesh Mathur is all set to try his hand at orthodox gananachna roles. "Mercifully the offers are coming in a steady trickle in spite of Johnny Gaddaar failing to take off. Quite frankly I didn't even think about the film's fate. I had given all of myself to the project for a year. I had no more energy or emotion to invest in counting its blessings at the box-office. Johnny Gaddaar was a challenge. I am glad I took it up."
And now an equally big challenge awaits Neil. "My second film Tera Kya Hoga Johnny is also very unconventional. I wanted to work with a director like Sudhir Mishra even if the protagonist is played by a young boy from Jharkhand called Sikandar. There're two parallel plots in Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, one featuring Soha Ali Khan and the other featuring me. I play a guy called Parvez who's idolized by Sikandar."
Quite a reversal of the role Neil played in Johnny Gaddaar where he looked up to his guru in crime played by Dharmendra. "But now I promise you my third film will be a traditional love story. I want to prove that I can do the routine stuff too," says Neil.