It was expected that Nitesh Tiwari would change overnight after the grand success of Dangal. They all do. Nitesh didn’t. As Dangal climbs from success to success, the man helming the epic remains monkish and sufiyana in his detachment.
Producers are lining up to sign Nitesh. There is tremendous pressure to do a sequel to Dangal, and if not a direct sequel, then, at least another sports film.
I have known Nitesh from the time he co-directed the charming children’s film Chillar Party with Vikas Bahl.
After Chillar Party, Nitesh and Vikas parted ways, as they were destined to. The two are as dissimilar as individuals and artistes as Bimal Roy and Bhagwan Dada. Nitesh branched out to make the cute and innocuous Bhootnath Returns. Vikas, after unfairly hogging all the acclaim for Chillar Party, went on to make Queen and turned into some kind of a Page 3 prototype….reclusive disdainful towards the press.
Nitesh and his filmmaker wife Ashwini Iyer Tiwari remain happily married unaffected by the trappings of stardom. The simplicity of spirit is evident in Dangal, where every frame is honest.
Dangal has not changed his attitude. He attributes its success to several factors, the least of them being his own storytelling skills. “I think the honesty and sincerity with which Dangal has been made has worked in Dangal's favour. We gave it all the time it deserved, all the effort it deserved, all the scale it deserved.”
Nitesh hits the nail on the head when he speaks of the participative mood that Dangal creates, so that the audience feels at home with the struggles of a father’s ambitions to make his daughters world champions. “We wrote it and shot it with the intention of giving our audience an engaging story in which they could participate as well. The characters and their emotions were kept extremely real and relatable. And the added layer of humour made the film even more enjoyable. The icing on the cake is that people are not just loving the movie, but, they are also able to see and appreciate the effort that has gone into making it. That's what has made Dangal connect with people in such a big way.”
Now that Dangal is declared the biggest success of Hindi cinema, Nitesh isn’t putting any pressure on himself to deliver something bigger. “It's very natural that the success of Dangal would put pressure on me. But, I have to be practical about it. Dangal had a beautiful script, a legend like Aamir Khan and a bunch of hugely talented and committed artists and technicians. One can never be certain but one can only hope for the same to happen again.”
So, would it be a Dangal follow-up next?
Says Nitesh firmly, “I usually don't put any conditions on the kind of films I would like to make. In fact, I would like to make all kind of films, provided I get stories that are exciting in those genres.”