Filmmaker Nikkhil Advani says he will make more films about the common man like Satyameva Jayate
One of the big releases this week is Satyameva Jayate starring John Abraham and Manoj Bajpayee. The film, directed by Milap Zaveri, has an ensemble of producers but one name that stands out is that of Nikkhil Advani. The filmmaker whose first film is the unforgettable Kal Ho Na Ho, has seen various ups and downs in his career. But since he turned producer, Nikkhil has become one of the game changers in the industry, making films on unusual subjects.
D-Day, Airlift and Lucknow Central are some of his recent films through which Nikkhil introduced Bollywood audiences to new themes. With Satyameva Jayate, he says he is attempting to tell the story of the common man even as he pays tribute to the action flicks of the late ’70s. “I was keen on producing because I felt this is a story about the common man,” reveals the producer, adding, “Milap (director of Satyameve Jayate) and I grew up watching films by Prakash Mehra, Manmohan Desai and Ramesh Sippy and Satyameva Jayate is a tribute to these films of the ’70s.”
But when asked what about those action films appeals to Nikkhil, he draws a parallel between that era and the current wave in India, “Salim-Javed were astute in capturing the mood that was prevalent in the late ’70s. The angry young man was the direct product of the Emergency. Right now, in our country, the common man’s question is — who is talking for us and that’s why Satyameva Jayate had to be made. Even in the 2019 elections, political parties will have to answer to the common man.”
Though Nikkhil talks about the common man today, some of his earlier films clearly catered to the NRI market. The whole movie would be shot in foreign locations. But today, the filmmaker has a different perspective. “Whether Kal Ho Na Ho or Salam-E- Ishq, we were riding the wave of the Indian diaspora at that time. Indians living abroad were demanding an identity for themselves. Whether you were shooting abroad or not, it didn’t matter to people in India. This mindset was wrong. There is a huge population in India for whom we need to make films. I am happy that has changed. Dangal is a prime example. It does not have the gloss and glamour of an exotic location like Switzerland. It’s a rooted story and that’s what works,” explains Nikkhil who is gearing up for his next release, Saif Ali Khan-starrer Bazaar that launches Gauravv K Chawla as a director.
The film has already been in the news for various reasons. There have been reports that it is inspired by the Wolf of Wall Street but Nikkhil shares his version, “Bazaar is not inspired by Wolf of Wall Street. It takes inspiration from various stories of financial irregularities and scams that took place during the ’90s in the stock market. It has nothing to do with the Hollywood flick, except that the portrayal of the hyper-energetic lifestyle of the character in Bombay is similar to that of Leonardo DiCaprio’s.” Among other things, the filmmaker, who was part of the jury at International Film Festival of Melbourne, will start work on his next, Batla House (also starring John), from October.