Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh debuts as a writer producer with Bypass Road, a home invasion thriller
While Neil Nitin Mukesh hails from the legendary Mukesh family (singers Mukesh and his son Nitin Mukesh), it’s not just his family legacy that keeps Neil in the spotlight. His promising performances, right from his debut — Sriram Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddaar — have fetched him significant films and have always put him in the limelight.
Whether it was New York, Lafangey Parinde, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo or more recently Saaho, the actor has always made a mark with his roles. Now, Neil is debuting as a writer and producer with Bypass Road that releases today, and his younger brother Naman Nitin Mukesh debuts as its director.
Behind the scenes
It comes as a surprise that Neil, who has acted in a variety of films and has explored different genres is now choosing to go behind the scenes as a writer. The actor clarifies, “Many times in my career I have had limited choices and as a creative person I didn’t want to limit myself. I love thrillers, but somehow not many filmmakers are paying enough attention to this genre. Everyone seems to be following a formula. Thrillers are my forte, so I decided to work on one.”
Bypass Road, explains the actor, is a psychological thriller in the home invasion genre. Neil plays the lead in the film that also stars Adah Sharma, Gul Panag, Rajit Kapur and Sudhanshu Pandey in prominent roles. Talking about his interest in writing, the actor says he’s been writing for long and had been working on the script for two-and-a-half years before it went on floors. “The story that’s finally executed is completely different from what it was when I started writing. I had to strike a balance as a producer, writer and actor,” says Neil candidly, adding further, “Bypass Road is a homage to Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie and Sriram Raghavan.”
Brothers in arms
Though Neil has worked with established directors in the industry, he chose Naman, his younger brother (who has worked as an assistant director earlier) to direct Bypass Road. His reasoning is that Naman has been his confidant throughout, while the actor was working on the script. “He was more like my sounding board initially, but what I realised is that Naman technically understood the plot. He executed my vision perfectly on the storyboard and understood the nuances of the film,” explains Neil.
The duo decided to make an Indian thriller that’s on par with international standards. A film where every character is a suspect, including Neil’s character — a wheelchair-bound paraplegic. “It was not easy to strike a balance between the emotions of good and evil, and this film demanded it because everyone is a suspect. It’s quite nuanced,” admits Neil. The actor further reveals that a bathtub sequence in the film was the most challenging for him to shoot. Since his role is that of a paraplegic, he had to be conscious that his lower body stayed still while he reflexed only his upper body. He underwent upper body training to help shoot the scene.
“There were moments when Naman and the entire crew wouldn’t understand if I was acting or was actually drowning. I would be tied up to a pole and had to act like I am being drowned. This has been the most challenging scene ever in my career. But a thriller is not a thriller till we have a bathtub sequence. Being a Hitchcock fan, this scene was a must,” says Neil.
Though both his father and g randfather were acclaimed singers, Neil says Naman and him chose different careers because of their interests. “I am more professionally trained as an actor, and Naman is trained as a director. We do sing. I even compose and play the piano, but I think we are good at what we are doing now. We do plan to make a biopic on our grandfather, but that will take time,” signs off the actor.