Legendary singer Mukesh’s grandsons and Nitin Mukesh’s sons, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Naman Nitin Mukesh, have joined hands to present their first production, Bypass Road. While Neil has written, produced and acted in the film, Naman makes his directorial debut with this movie. In an interview with BT, they talk about why this project is so important to them:
What prompted you to venture into production at this stage of your career, Neil? And Naman, why do you think this was the right film for you to make your directorial debut?
Neil: For Naman and me, this film is extremely important. When I started out 12 years ago, there was a debate on whether a singer’s son and grandson can really become an actor. For us, this film is an answer to that argument; it’s like emphasising strongly that creativity has no boundaries. When you come from within the industry, people question your capabilities even more and think that you have probably taken your privileges for granted. But in this exciting phase of cinema that’s driven by content, I felt the need to craft and back a story that I wanted to see on the big screen.
Naman: I started out as an assistant director. My brother got me on board only when he felt that I could handle something so big on my own. People were sceptical about it and some even said that I got a chance only because of my brother. But they don’t know that he won’t give me a chance just for the heck of it. We have a film lineage, and we can’t change that, but everyone in the family has worked hard to reach where they have.
While many actors are producing films today, you have also written this movie. What prompted you to do that?
Neil: At the beginning of my career, I didn’t want to be categorised as a particular kind of actor. I chose Johnny Gaddar (2007) as my debut to avoid that. While I acted in big-budget films like Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015) and displayed my vulnerable side in films like New York (2009), I’ve played complex characters because I want to give something different to the audience. People tend to have a herd mentality, and when something works, you’re offered the same sort of roles. I’ve always steered clear of that. One of the reasons to write the film was to tell people that this is the kind of movie that I want to be a part of. I am often asked why I wasn’t doing something like Johnny Gaddar again. But the fact is, there’s not much written in that genre. I didn’t want to wait for someone to tap my potential, and so, I decided to do this on my own. Thriller is my forte and it works well for me. The thriller genre has an audience, but not enough content is created for it. So, I decided to write something that appealed to my sensibilities.
Was the decision to produce a film difficult to arrive at, given the challenges that it comes with?
Naman: For us, production was the right step. We have both been exposed to production work before our careers began. The confidence of being able to execute a project comes with experience. We were clear that we would never take this chance for granted. The film is dominated by the plot, and not by the fact that we are producers, and so, we can do just about anything that we want. We’ve, in fact, been extremely cautious with the money, the talent on board and the product in hand.
Neil: For the last few years, I have been the entertainment director of Mirage Films with Madan Paliwal. For us, production is not about playing the boss; it is about getting the job done in the right manner. Our next two films don’t have me as an actor or Naman as the director. We are simply backing them and collaborating with deserving artistes and technicians. Many doors were shut for me, because people turned around and told me, ‘Why don’t you just sing?’ or ‘Do you think you can act because you are good looking?’ I wondered why I was being judged. I don’t want others to face that. I hate theories; I prefer doing things. So, with our little budget, we’ve done the best we could for this story.
Naman, what was interaction like with Neil the actor on the set?
Naman: His experience always comes in handy, and he is my backbone. Yes, he bullied me every day, but more like the elder brother who pushed me to do better. He never let me get complacent. In fact, he made everyone feel at home, except me.
Bypass Road, produced by Madan Paliwal of Miraj Group and NNM Films, releases on November 8.