Interview - Naman Nitin Mukesh!

Naman Nitin Mukesh’s name sounds familiar to many – that’s because he is the brother of Neil Nitin Mukesh, but more importantly, he has been the one Neil turns to for some sound advice. Marking his directorial debut with Bypass Road, a film that Neil penned, was only natural it seems, with his knack for looking at the entire picture. Naman Nitin Mukesh is all set to bring all of his knowledge from previous projects onto his directorial venture, Bypass Road. Here’s our chat with him.

When I spoke to Neil, he said to me that it is not surprising that you went into direction because he always sought out your vision for his previous projects. Do you agree with him – that this was what was basically bound to happen?

It’s not something I had as young as when he had his vision to become an actor. For me, it was more inculcated. My father, my brother – ever since I was very young, we had a level of exposure to the industry. There are many things that go into filmmaking that a common man wouldn’t be able to see, whether it is going to a recording studio or going to a film set. That is where I grew up. We would watch a lot of Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra films, and it is something that grew into me, and I’m very lucky that it happened to me.

Do you find that you still had to carve out a certain path for direction on your own or did you have certain advantages?

I would say that there are the plusses and minuses to everything. The plus side was that I had exposure from much earlier on than anyone else ever had. If you would say that I was given a job faster because I am from this family in this industry, I would that’s not necessarily the case. Even when I got my first job, they wanted to know what I already knew.

For the negatives, when you are coming from a family with generations who have already been exposed, people have heard Mukesh and Nitin Mukesh; people have seen Neil Nitin Mukesh. So there is a certain level of expectation that they have. So I have to match that. I just can’t be another one in the family tree. You know what I mean? With all the work they have done, I need to be worthy of that same recognition, so it becomes tougher.

Working with family can be challenging - Is there a tension of sorts working with family on set, given that you and Neil are working together?

That is right, that is right (chuckles).

Because you have to create that division, on a creative level, to not bring business home.

That is actually something we have had for a really long time. Being on a film, being an assistant to the director, where he was the actor of the film – so I was exposed to working with him earlier as well.

The great thing is that our wavelengths match. See, there are bound to be creative differences. There are bound to be, sometimes, creative arguments, that something should be done a different way – but once we leave the office, that stops. There is no bringing it back home with you. There’s no brother-brother on set. My actor is so much senior to me – I call him ‘sir’ on set. I don’t call him ‘bhaiya’ – “brother”. We don’t maintain that casual demeanour on set. On set, it is very professional. But the minute we pack up, we are back to normal.

Let’s say you are behind the camera. Neil thinks there is a particular way that a scene has to be shot, especially given he wrote the script for Bypass Road. He wants to improvise. How do you handle a situation like that?

On-set improvisation is handled where both perspectives are looked at, just like for any actor. See, luckily for me, he is also the writer of the film, so he is very creatively involved. He has been writing this film for two and a half years. That is more time than I would have spent on the film. He has already been with the film for two and a half years more than me. So when he has a particular creative vision, I won’t just veto it because I am the director. Just because I have that say. We will have those creative discussions where we both agree.

Creative improvisation is for all actors, not just my brother – they are free to live the character however they feel so long as it does not change the story, the plot, and the character in its essence.

Do you sometimes feel a certain sense of pressure because you have to bring the entire vision together?

Of course, of course. But at the same time, my brother has been my biggest pillar of support. What I feel is that we make the best team. We are not two different people when it comes to the film. We are the same. There is pressure because there are so many people who need to pre-approve what we do; there are so many people ready to walk into a theatre and judge what we did for nine months, in two hours. Sometimes we work, nineteen-twenty hours a day for nine months to make something for people who will sit and watch it for two hours, and then tell us if it is good or not. But before it gets to that, we need to be proud of what we are doing. We need to be meeting those expectations of what we had to begin with. That is happening both with me and my brother.

So how long before we see the final product? And have you thought about the marketing of the film, given that promotions are such a large part of many films?

Right now, we are simultaneously on edit. Once the edit is locked, we are into post-production.

Marketing has begun to play a very important role in your film. You can’t just release the film. Now you need to make the audience aware. We are not there yet, where people are waiting for our film to come. We need to make the audience aware of what we are doing. The team of Bypass Road , the actors, have to start feeding it out. Social media marketing is the biggest and best way to market anything right now – more than advertisements on television, more than hoardings. Eighty percent, I feel, is through social media. We have a couple of good things that will be very attractive to the audience, so let’s see when it gets closer to the date.

Now, I imagine this would be hard for you to answer, but where do you see yourself five years from now?

When we started off, being young, our father always told us to not go after the money. He said, we should have a name. I hope, five years from now, when I walk down the street, people know who I am, what my name is.

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Armin Sethi

Bollywood Film Fame Canada has been a source of original content consisting of real conversations, reviews, and news of everything film, music, and entertainment for 15 years.

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