He was one of ‘Black Widow’ Priyanka Chopra’s victims in Saat Khoon Maaf (2011), and in this Friday’s release, Players, Neil Nitin Mukesh plays a character named Spider. “I hope he turns out to be a
Spider-Man,” laughs the actor, admitting that even as a child he was more intrigued than scared of the eight-legged creatures.
Players is an official remake of The Italian Job, and within minutes of hearing it, Neil decided he was “in” without even enquiring about the role he was playing. He is quick to point out that directors Abbas-Mustan have taken every twist from the original movie and re-twisted it.
For him, playing computer geek Spider meant long hours in the gym losing all the weight he had to put on. “Initially, my character is a bit of a couch potato. Lollipop in my mouth, hooked to my laptop and completely unconcerned about looks. There’s nothing exceptional about this guy apart from his mind and this is reflected in his disheveled appearance and lethargic body.”
Being recruited to hack a computer changes not only Spider’s life but also his body type. “I had to dangle from ropes and cables, execute perfect jumps. This meant rigorous training in the gym, not for an aesthetic body, but to loosen up muscles for greater flexibility. I put on some not-needed kilos, then lost all of it in the space of one film,” Neil points out.
In New Zealand, he fractured his pinky finger while swinging from a pipe and in Russia, almost froze his brains by trying to be heroic in –10 degree temperatures. So what’s he going to remember Players by? “The Mini Coopers,” Neil grins. “The iconic cars were so tiny that I felt like Godzilla while standing next to them. But once I had squeezed in, they were comfortable, since I’m not a six-foot-plus Abhishek (Bachchan). It was such a thrill zipping into Wellington airport in a Mini, then jumping out and racing down the tarmac with Bipasha (Basu), planes flying inches over our heads. If I had wings, I too would have flown off. I’ve been an adventure buff and shooting for Players, every day was a bucket list wish come true.”