If Looks Could Kill: An Exclusive Chat With Neil Nitin Mukesh
Neil Nitin Mukesh
While those chocolate boy looks are the stuff teenage dreams are made of, Neil Nitin Mukesh chose an unconventional path to enter Bollywood. The offers for a love story were plenty, but he decided to throw caution to the wind and instead, chose to play a negative character in his debut movie, Johnny Gaddaar. His performances in subsequent movies like New York, Jail and Saat Khoon Maaf were appreciated by the masses and critics alike. Six years and eight movies later, Neil Nitin Mukesh has certainly carved a niche for himself in Bollywood. Excerpts from an interview:
Considering your family has a strong musical background, how did acting happen?
Creativity has no boundaries. Having said that, I do have music in my blood and I compose, sing and play the piano. But acting is my passion, my life and has always been my first choice.
One would assume that with your good looks, you would choose conventional roles, but you’ve chosen negative roles in movies like Saat Khoon Maaf and Johnny Gaddaar. Is this a conscious decision?
This has been a conscious decision ever since my debut. Everyone wanted me to debut with a love story, but I thought differently and hence chose Johnny Gaddaar as my debut vehicle. I wanted people to take me seriously as an actor, and my choice of movies has offered me characters, which are multilayered. I want people to respect me for my work. But, I would still love to do love stories and comedies. I don’t see myself doing slapstick movies or being a part of them, even if they get the box office ringing. It’s not my space; I haven’t reached that point.
What is your criteria for selecting a role?
I always put myself in the audience’s place and see if as a viewer, I would want to see the film. If yes, then I want to know who’s directing it, what my character is and if it’s impactful. If all these points fall in place, I’ll do the film. If not, then I won’t think twice before saying no.
With the demands of showbiz, how do you manage to find time for fitness?
My trainer travels with me. He monitors my food intake and my workouts. Each film demands a different look and we work accordingly.
What’s your fitness regimen like?
I do weights four days a week and cardio once a week.
Tell us a little about your diet.
Your body is the result of 70 per cent diet and 30 per cent exercise. Diet is very important. It keeps fluctuating, but as of now, I follow nutritionist Pooja Makhija’s diet. She advises me to eat every two hours. The diet includes more carbohydrates in the morning and slowly progresses into an allprotein diet.
Is there any fitness advice that you’d like to give our readers?
It’s simple…don’t pamper your stomach!
Do you have a skincare regimen?
People don’t believe it, but I’ve never done a facial or gone for any skin treatment. I just use a simple face wash.
What’s your ultimate stress buster?
Music, family, friends and love.
Do you believe in indulging in spa/ beauty treatments?
I go for a massage once in a while. It’s more to feel good than follow a fad. I think nothing’s better than lots of water and a good night’s sleep to rejuvenate yourself.
What’s your personal style statement?
Simple, smart and stylish! You should always let your personality take over your clothes and not the other way around. Never let your clothes or style intimidate you.
Who are your favourite designers?
Narendra Kumar Ahmed is my favourite. I think his cuts for men are the best in India. And Vikram Phadnis is unbeatable for his Indian wear.
What are the future projects you’re working on?
I just wrapped up the shoot for Shortcut Romeo which will release soon. I’m currently shooting for 3G in Fiji. After this, I get on the sets of David with director Bejoy Nambiar.
What, according to you, are the lessons you’ve learnt from your time in Bollywood?
I’ve just learnt one thing -- it’s like being in a boxing ring. Every Friday when your film releases, you either get a punch or you land a punch. The game is not to get knocked out but to keep standing. The hits keep coming, but one of your punches can knock out your contender.
Who do you consider competition among your contemporaries?
None! Everyone is carving their niche. Everyone has ample work. Besides its competition when it’s a game. This is a creative field and I don’t want to kill my creativity for the numbers game. I have my parallel track where I’m alone with this thought. The rest are on another track. They can most willingly compete with each other while I watch them from the other side!
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