The last time I met Neil Nitin Mukesh was at the Yash Raj studios where he was promoting his film New York. No one really knew how he was like in person. But I kind of somehow sensed something in the young protege back then. Blessed with an air of John Abraham, Neil too had a strange effect on the various female journalists and PR women around the room where he was interviewed. He exudes the kind of compelling quality which makes him a front cover man on various glossy film magazines. I had known that he has got what it takes to make it big. Today, when I talk to him on the phone, nothing seems to have changed: his voice is laid back as he packs his stuff to fly to New Zealand for the second schedule of Abbas Mustan’s Players, he likes being called a ‘gaddar’, ‘lafanga’ and now ‘adamkhor’. He laughs out loud and then gets into a serious chat about his most talked about film 7 Khoon Maaf. Film sets are where Neil finds his peace of mind now-a-days. “There’s so much to learn and I want to. Thanks to filmmakers like Vishal Bhardwaj and Sriram Raghavan, learning can never stop”, he tells me. Neil’s physical presence is so intense on screen in 7 Khoon Maaf, it is much more understated in real life. He has that rare quality, which only a few really great actors do, of appearing almost disappointingly anonymous when you meet them, until with a certain gesture, or perhaps a laugh, their star voltage is made unsettlingly apparent. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent present you the first of the seven husbands of Susanna from 7 Khoon Maaf – Major Rodriques aka Adamkhor Rodriques. Pick your choice.
“I didn’t give any audition for my role”
I was in Kanpur spending time with my sister after Lafangey Parindey‘s shoot. It was my sister and my nephew’s birthday. I received a call from Vishal Bhardwaj’s office. His assistant called me up saying that Vishal wanted to meet me. The moment was like a dream come true moment. I flew back earlier from Kanpur and instantly ran on coming to Mumbai to meet Vishal. He narrated me the film and my character and I was floored. I didn’t give any auditions.
“After New York, this is the first film when Irrfan, John and I are back together”
But yes, we did have an interesting workshop for the film and that’s the only time all the actors came together under one roof. There were two to three anecdotes about the film. After New York, this is the first film when Irrfan, John and I are back together. John and I only share one scene together. Naseer saab was also there. My look test also took place and Vishal wanted me with a moustache to make my look of an army officer more ‘adamkhor’ (laughs).
“Major Rodriques is a true kamina”
I don’t know what makes me an ‘adamkhor’. I can’t really reveal my character in detail but you need to watch the film man! It’s a fabulous film which Vishal Bhardwaj has tweaked and how! 7 Khoon Maaf was one film I was hoping that I get in my career, and I am glad that I am playing one of the characters in the film. For any actor for that matter, he would love to do this role. There are so many nuances to my role of Major Rodriques. He is simple yet scary. All these things make the character so yummy that you just want to sit there and eat up the character. Major Rodriques is a true ‘kamina’. So Vishal has got yet another ‘kamina’ working with him, pun intended (laughs).
“I am the youngest actor to have worked with six National Award winning directors”
I am one of the youngest actors from our film fraternity who’s worked with six National Award winning directors and it’s a great journey. So far so good. I really believe that it’s a craft you got to learn, and I am still learning with each film. I am not a producer and talk about its business. But you can talk about the craft, technical details of my shot, etc. I am an actor and I am pushing my limits with each passing film. I want to learn so many things in films. Yes, I consider myself lucky because these six directors chose to work with me, whether it’s Sriram, Kabir Khan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Abbas Mustan, Sudhir Mishra, Pradeep Sarkar.
“Susanna is awesome. I am her first husband and I am proud of it”
Susanna is awesome. I am her first husband and I am proud of it (laughs) and everything happens in the film after me (laughs). Priyanka is the only actor in the industry I’d say who would pull that role of. She has done her part with such ease and enigma, she is fabulous. I am so glad that I’ve got the opportunity to work with an actor of her calibre. Even during rehearsals, there were discussions in all my films but in 7 Khoon Maaf, there were no discussions. We were just put into an impromptu situation and told to act. The acting came out even more natural.
“Priyanka and I saw films together while we were put up in Coorg”
Priyanka has seen couple of my films and so have I seen most of her films. Discussion of performances in films we both have worked on weren’t discussed on the sets of 7 Khoon Maaf because we were so deeply sucked into our roles; there was no time to discuss that. Yes, we also chilled out together and we went and watched films together. We were put up in Coorg as there was hardly anything we could connect to.
“It’s good that people are recognising Major Rodriques and not Neil Nitin Mukesh”
After the first look was out a few weeks ago, I got a comment saying – Are you in the film Neil? (Laughs) I answered – Yes, probably you didn’t recognise me because I was having moustache. It’s good in a way because people haven’t recognised me and they have recognised my character of Major Rodriques. That’s the level of writing and direction which Vishal Bhardwaj comes up with.
“Vishal has taken the film one notch higher than Ruskin Bond’s book”
Yes, I have read Ruskin Bond’s ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’. I can just say that both men have great individual visions. One is a writer and one is a director. Having said that, and nothing to take away from Ruskin Bond, Vishal Bhardwaj has taken the film one notch higher. All adaptations try and do that anyway. So yes, let’s wait what audiences have to say because many avid readers must’ve read the book.