By Devansh Patel, Bollywood Hungama News Network
A zara-hatke debut, playing a gaddaar in his first film, then his performance being critically acclaimed by top reviewers, followed by him getting nominated in all award functions. And if that wasn't enough, pause.......now read - he is the hottest pin-up boy of the Hindi Film Industry, his presence is seen on Dabboo Ratnani's and Subi Samuel's calendars and the only actor in the Indian cinema fondly called as a Hrithik Roshan look-alike by his fans. Put your hands together for Johnny...oops... Neil Nitin Mukesh, as he chats about his past, present and future.
Your grey shades in Johnny Gaddaar have shown many colours than just one as far as your acting is concerned. Is it right in saying that Johnny is not a gaddaar?
(laughs) Johnny Gaddaar has been a colourful opening for me as a debutant and I hope that the consistency remains. Critical acclaim is the biggest gain anyone can get in their first film. And it's not only the critics who've appreciated the film, it all goes to show that the audiences have taste for different cinema and are now accepting the change.
I hope the U.K audiences buy the original DVD of Johnny Gaddaar and watch it. I bet they'll enjoy it.
So when you say that the audiences are accepting the change, were you sad to know that the film wasn't released theatrically in the U.K considering that it was your debut film?
Of course. Any actor’s first film not getting released in the U.K is sad. But then it's up to the producers and distributors to decide. Yes, I am amazed at the fact that the film wasn't released in the U.K in spite of the vast Hindi movie-goer population. But you shouldn't forget that the overseas Asians like more of the masala entertainers and family dramas unlike Johnny Gaddaar being a suspense thriller with a very versatile line up of stars topped with a new comer like me. I hope the U.K audiences buy the original DVD of Johnny Gaddaar and watch it. I bet they'll enjoy it.
Grandson of India's finest playback singer, Late Mukeshji, son of singer Nitin Mukesh. Then why not build your career in singing?
Actor’s son is always an actor. That's what our Hindi Film Industry has seen over many decades. But norms are meant to be broken. Just as a doctor’s son need not be a doctor, singer’s son need not be a singer. As long as the creativity side is there, I think that's more important and that's what I've got.
Only one film old and you're the hottest pin-up boy, not only on the posters but even on Dabboo Ratnani, Subi Samuel and the Pink calendar for the breast cancer awareness. Did you see this coming?
I am the calendar boy of the year (laughs). I guess it's what the people from the industry want to try. Directors like Sriram Raghavan gambled by making Johnny Gaddaar as far as the cast and script was concerned, but the risk paid off only because he had faith and confidence in himself. Dabboo and Subi must have had the same thinking what my director had before taking me on board. So I'm not at all surprised and shocked, but happy. Yes, I couldn't see all this coming post Johnny Gaddaar.
Let's talk about competition and nominations. So, many debutants come every year but only a handful stand out. Last year it was you and Ranbir Kapoor from the male list. How fierce is the battle?
It's not a battle nor competition, and as far as nomination is concerned, it's rewards which matter to me the most than awards. I think awards are in the house because Ranbir is like a brother to me and Rishi uncle is like a father. So, whoever wins doesn't matter and I have no regrets. Ranbir is deserving. Talking about me, last year there were 26 debutants and 2 being nominated, you can't say more. I am thankful to all those who have considered me for nominations.
What's Johnny...sorry...Neil going to do next?
I've just finished shooting for my next release titled Tera Kya Hoga Johnny directed by Sudhir Mishra and after that I'm doing a film with Madhur Bhandarkar titled Fashion. Once that's done, I'm going to do a film with Eros International. I'm also doing a film with Percept Pictures.
Is this all because of Johnny Gaddaar that you're getting so many offers?
You have hit the nail on the head. Yes, you're right. All the films I've signed and am doing right now are because of my debut in Johnny Gaddaar. I did get some offers before Johnny Gaddaar released but after it’s after the film’s release that a lot is being spoken about my praise worthy talent by my critics and fans alike.
The word 'Johnny' seems to be your lucky charm. What's Tera Kya Hoga Johnny all about?
Tera Kya Hoga Johnny is not about me (laughs). Johnny is played by a 15 year old boy from Jharkhand. It's got 2 stories which run parallel to each other and Johnny gets connected in both the stories. One of the protagonists is Preeti played by Soha Ali Khan and the other is played by me. In the film, both the protagonists keep thinking what's going to happen with Johnny and Johnny keeps thinking what's going to happen with them. My character is called Parvez in the film who comes from Ahmedabad and wants to make it really big but he lands up into a lot of s**t and nonsense because of a lot of things. Tera Kya Hoga Johnny should release this June.
Are we now going to see you more often in thriller genre or are you going to do some popcorn flicks too?
It was a deliberate move from my end that I first wanted to venture out in a film like Johnny Gaddaar only for the people and critics to take me seriously as an actor. I am continuing to do that with Tera Kya Hoga Johnny but after that I'm trying to get into the commercial side, films for which have already been signed. So, hopefully you'll be seeing much more of me than just Johnny.
Your fans still think you are the only Hrithik Roshan look-alike in the industry. What does your mirror tell you?
(laughs) I wouldn't call myself as a look-alike. Many people think that. For me personally, it's a very big thing. If you are comparing me with one of the best looking men in the world then I will grab it as a huge compliment. Hrithik works very hard, he is superb in all his performances, he is the best dancer in our industry, and it's going to take me many years to even come to the level of grace and sharpness that Hrithik possesses.
Are we going to see you lend your voice in Hindi Films as a one off thing if not as a playback singer?
Yes, why not. Trend is changing and so are our films and our audiences. With so many actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt, etc lending their voice in Hindi Films, I think I should also give it a try and I have a right to do that because I belong to the family of singers.
Any message you'd like to convey to your fans through Bollywood Hungama?
For all my fans, please keep loving me and keep on watching my films. I hope I can sustain the good work for all my life and cater to all your needs. God Bless!