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Interview Team : Sudharshan

“In case you are wondering, I dubbed for most part of my role in Kaththi. Oh… Bullets Padala… Naane deal pannikkaren”, Neil Nitin Mukesh starts off by repeating one of his dialogues from Kaththi and strangely, his pronunciation was spot on. For an actor who didn’t want to venture into a zone that was alien to him, he came out of his comfort zone and signed up Kaththi for a reason.

In a candid chat with Sudharshan Giridhar, the Bollywood hunk opens up about his views on Kaththi, director AR Murugadoss, the Tamil industry and why he agreed for the part. Also, watch out for his observations on Ilayathalapathy! 


Firstly, congrats on a great first impression… So, were you planning on coming to Tamil industry earlier or were you surprised when AR Murugadoss asked you for the role?

No… I had no intentions of exploring that side of film-making, mainly because of the language barrier. I thought I wouldn’t be able to give my 100% to my craft if I’m not comfortable with the language. As an actor it is important for me to know the language to understand the emotions and expressions. I had been offered a few roles down south, which I had to pass for the reasons I just said.

But when it was Murugadoss sir offering me a part, I had to decide wisely.  I knew it was a great opportunity. So, I sat down and told myself, “Neil, as an actor, I shouldn’t limit myself. It is important for me to push the envelope and accept great challenges. I need to do something that excites me as an actor.” That is the one reason why I took up Kaththi.

After agreeing to the project, I didn’t want to move my lips randomly to any of the sequences I was going to do. So, I learnt the dialogues, the dialect and perfected the pronunciations. I’ve dubbed for most part of the movie. I spent time on understanding each and every word, the moods and the expressions.

All credits to Murugadoss sir, for his guidance and patience. Every now and then, an actor needs to sharpen his acts and with Kaththi I’ve sharpened my skills. 

When it was Murugadoss sir offering me a part, I had to decide wisely


We understand, you struggled a bit, dubbing for the part, for obvious reasons… But how did you manage to act it out onscreen with such spectacular precision? We couldn’t find a single place where the dialogue and the lip movement didn’t match…

In fact, when we were in the dubbing studio, the recordist kept insisting me to replicate the nuances that I exploited while acting.

Like I said, when I knew what I was speaking, I started having a blast while performing them. What I used to do was, I took the script a day before the shooting and I had one of the assistants with me, who explained each and every line. Once I’m done knowing the meaning of my lines, I’d go and mug them up. The next day I’d be ready even to innovate things, if I’m required to. It was a tedious and long process, but this was the only chance I’d got to prove myself as an actor.

When I spoke to AR Murugadoss sir after I signed up for the project, I promised him I’d bring in freshness to the table. I didn’t want my role to be a typical, noisy villain. I wanted my character to be a suave and classy one. At the same time, he must have the one-among-us image, rather than the stereotypical larger than life persona. The way I respond after learning that there’s actually a look-alike to Jeevanantham is an example of the ‘one-among-us image’ I’m talking about here. Also, in my introduction sequence, the slap that I give my PA, after he says the gunmen couldn’t shoot Jeevanantham down was an innovation I made on the spot. That’s where AR Murugadoss stands out. He gives his actors a free hand to explore.

Now I’m proud of what I’ve done and happy that people have been appreciative of my work. Trust me, I’ve put in so much hard work for this part and I really am elated that things have worked out well. I’m so glad that I got out of the cocoon of limiting myself to doing only Hindi movies. I’m now proud to say that I’m confident enough to take up more projects down south.

I promised AR Murugadoss I’d bring in freshness to the table


AR Murugadoss has also delivered a couple of blockbusters in Hindi… So, how’s he seen in the North?

Oh…. Murugadoss sir is highly respected in the North. He is in fact the most sought after director there. That is honestly one reason why I wanted to work with him. Even if Murugadoss sir asks me for a Russian movie, I’d do it for him. When people like him, Mani Ratnam and Shankar sir offer a part, you don’t say no, because they are genuine filmmakers.

Take Murugadoss for example. He makes his movies commercial, but every frame of his will be composed with utmost intelligence. There’ll also be strong content and a variety of emotions in his movies. That, I think, is something we are lacking in the current scenario. If I want to be a part of a commercial film, what better option do I have than something as brilliant as Kaththi.

Even if Murugadoss sir asks me for a Russian movie, I’d do it for him


Kaththi, according to us, is one of the best films of Vijay in recent times, in terms of acting… How strong an impression did he make on you, as an actor and an individual?

The more I speak about Vijay, the less it seems. My character has come out so powerful because of the chemistry we shared.

To start with he is a spectacular human being and that reflects in his work. He has a great understanding of emotions and that reflects in the characters he plays. He has played both the characters with such dexterity.

Secondly, the greatest quality of Vijay is that he also contributes greatly to other actors on the set. If it weren’t for Vijay, my character wouldn’t have probably shaped the way it has. My role didn’t need a co-actor who was going to try to one-upmanship a character. The best thing about Vijay is that he is very secure as an actor. He doesn’t think twice about giving away all the attention if that is what his co-actors require.     

My father used to tell me that the more a tree starts growing and bearing fruits, the more it starts bowing down towards the earth. Vijay is the first person I’ve met in my whole life who is apt for that metaphor. For a man of his caliber, Vijay is spectacularly humble and for me, working with him was a great learning experience. He is like an elder brother to me.

The more I speak about Vijay, the less it seems


In your honest opinion, is the content of Kaththi compatible to the Hindi audience?

Kaththi’s storyline is relevant throughout the world. The power race is happening all around the globe and corruption is something we’ve all encountered at some point. Everyone in today’s world wants to acquire and there’s a serious case of power play everywhere. Our country as a whole is facing same problems that we’ve dealt with in Kaththi.

Forget Hindi, Kaththi can be remade in any language and it will still appeal to the audience. 

Kaththi’s storyline is relevant throughout the world


Who do you think will be perfect for the lead roles, if Kaththi is remade in Hindi?

Ideally Salman Khan or Aamir Khan will be apt for the lead role, because they both have the mass appeal and at the same time, they have the ability to create the impact the story is trying to make. Amongst the girls, though we have a talented bunch, Deepika Padukone will fit the part right, I think. Finally, the negative character must remain with me. 

Ideally Salman Khan or Aamir Khan will be apt for the lead role


Your observation on the Tamil film industry…

My first time experience in the industry was outstanding. I’m so looking forward to a career out there. I’m hoping people find me worthy enough to trust me with good roles.  

The industry as a whole is very disciplined and punctual. It really was a refreshing experience. Kaththi was like being a part of a Hollywood movie. 

Kaththi was like being a part of a Hollywood movie


What would you say is your mission as an actor?

Every actor primarily wants to be known. People, when they see us, should say- ‘Oh my god! That’s the guy’. It’s easy to make money. But to make a name for yourself and your family is very, very difficult.

So, I just want to make sure that I work hard and earn a lot of respect. That’s why I have kept my name as Neil Nitin Mukesh. Nitin and Mukesh are my Father’s and Grandfather’s names. I want their legacy to be remembered with mine.  

Good luck Neil! May you have a great career!




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