Neil Nitin Mukesh: I don’t like to leave my brains behind to watch a film

The Saat Khoon Maaf actor returns this year in Abbas Mastan’s action drama, Players. In a freewheeling chat he talks about his next film and his idea of good cinema…

Neil Nitin Mukesh, dressed in denims and full-sleeved T-shirt, seems relaxed in appearance and demeanour. And why not? It’s nearly after a year that the Saat Khoon Maaf actor will be seen in a film, this one called Players. The 29-year-old plays a nerdy computer whizkid in Abbas Mastan’s thriller. Neil refuses to reveal very much about Bollywood’s official version of Hollywood’s The Italian Job, but he does say his role is in the same space – grey shades and out-of-the-box – as his previous onscreen characters.

“And I don’t want to stop doing thrillers, because it is one genre that attracts me a lot,” says Neil, since “I feel the characters that are etched out (in thrillers) have more layers than regular parts. As an actor, I think it is a challenge to portray such roles on the big screen.”

Even if it happens at the cost of sharing screen space with a number of other actors? “It doesn’t matter, as long as you do your work and people appreciate it and look up to your work,” says the Johnny Gaddar hero. “So whether it’s with 50 people or one person, your work needs to be praised. You should not cheat in your work and be happy with it. If you are insecure, then you shouldn’t do it.”

Neil wasn’t insecure while working on this film, as most of the cast members are friends of his. Apart from Omi Vaidya, the 29-year-old shares family ties with his Players co-stars (Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Bobby Deol, Sikander Kher and Sonam Kapoor). When quizzed about his experience working with them, Neil is exceptionally kind with praise for the Kapoor babe. Here’s what he says about her: “This is my first film with Sonam and I must tell you, she has an ace up her sleeve with this one. She is looking even more stylish. Her new avatar is very interesting.”

About his directors Abbas Mastan Neil says, “From Khiladi to now, they have always progressed with time. Players is, in fact, their step forward at a lot of levels. It is a very well thought out film. Their style, technology, everything has moved ahead with time. But they are old school with their heart. They are very good human beings and that somewhere shows in their work. That’s why so many of us work together and we become like one big family. So you put in that more effort.”

Speaking of effort – legendary singer Mukesh’s grandson feels that lately Hindi cinema has been lacking in effort. Neil says, “Unfortunately, it’s not that our films are bad, but we are not guiding them correctly. If we keep offering them a certain amount and quality of films, they will get used to that and accept only that. Everywhere I read critics say, ‘Leave your brains behind and enjoy the film’. I say, why would you want to leave your brains behind to see a film? Your brain is a part of you, right? So go and see an intelligent film. Make an intelligent film and feed that to your audience. That’s the reason I like doing thrillers; somewhere I feel there is a little bit of intelligence that comes into play there.”

One of the reasons Neil has stayed away from other genres is the lack of intelligence and imagination used. About horror he says, “The last Indian horror film I saw and liked to an extent is Vikram Bhatt’s Haunted. I was pretty impressed with it, but I still feel we can really go to the next level.”

The actor continues, “I love all genres. If it’s a comedy, give me a nice comedy. Don’t expect me to do a put my finger in a plughole and get electrocuted and pretend like I am laughing. So let’s not do such comedies. I love situational comedy. I’d love to do a Hera Pheri. It’s a nice comedy because it is situational. It makes sense when whatever is happening.”

Neil is all set to do his first romantic comedy called Shortcut Romeo, which he thinks isn’t your clichéd mindless romcom, but a larger-than-life presentation of love and laughter. “Whenever I watched films as a child, I knew they were meant to be larger than life,” says the Players actor. “They are meant to be fictitious. They cannot be always on real cinema. I agree there have to be some films like that. I have been part of such cinema. But films have to have a certain scale – that’s what entertainment is all about!”