Why are we talking about Neil Nitin Mukesh now?
Because he became the first Bollywood actor to bag a role in the massively popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones! Only, he did NOT. Two weeks ago, Neil, who stars in the just released Sooraj Barjatya family drama Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP), became the talk of town. It all started with a press interview, in which he claimed that Greg Powell, the stunt director of Game of Thrones (GOT), who also choreographed some sword-fighting scenes in PRDP, had “offered Neil a role in the hit show”.
Every news outlet made headlines out of it and social media went into a frenzy. Even the international press – The Independent, The Week and Mirror – fell for the bait and ran reports with juicier details: “... he wouldn’t mind going nude for the HBO series”. Not everyone took too kindly to this ‘exciting’ news, and memes such as these started doing the rounds.
The actor was quick to issue a caveat that it wasn’t “official” yet. The hoopla went on for a couple of days, during which the public started to get suspicious: The IMDB page of Greg Powell, stunt director for films like Skyfall and Avengers: Age of Ultron, did not even list GOT in his credits. Soon enough, the reliable GOT fan community Watchers On The Wall got a confirmation from HBO that the actor “will not be a part of season 6 of Game of Thrones.” So before the news dies and he begins to fade from our collective memory yet again, here’s all you need to know about Neil Nitin Mukesh.
D.O.B: January 15, 1982
Family: Grandfather – the legendary singer Mukesh (Chand Mathur). Remember the full name, it’ll come handy in just a bit.
Father – playback singer Nitin Mukesh. Notice how son takes on the (famous) first name of father.
Born As: Neil Nitin Mukesh Chand Mathur! (Neil + father’s famous name + grandfather’s more famous name = easy access to Bollywood).
Fun Fact: It was Lata Mangeshkar who named him Neil, after astronaut Neil Armstrong. Lata was very close to Mukesh, The First of His Name, and used to regard him as her bhaiyya. She was invited by Mukesh II for Mukesh III’s naming ceremony, and on seeing the sparkly white kid, she exclaimed, “Yeh toh angrezi bachcha hai...” So, “Lataji wanted to give me an English name,” said Neil in an interview this October.
About His Complexion: Did you know that Neil is so fair he was once detained at New York airport as the officials refused to believe he was Indian? Once, he even had to tan himself to make him look less gora chitta than his female co-star.
Johnny, The Traitor
In 2007, thriller king Sriram Raghavan decided to make a neo-noir Tarantino-esque thriller about five men who get involved in a drug deal where a lot of money goes missing. Cast in the most crucial role was apna hero Neil. Johnny Gaddar first bombed, then became the sleeper hit of the year, and a new, hot face came into the spotlight. But then the spotlight started flickering.
Undulating Career Graph
In the sci-fi Aa Dekhe Zara (2009), he has a camera whose photos predict the future.
In Kabir Khan’s New York (2009), he is a young Muslim in New York in the backdrop of 9/11. (This was quite a nice film and it even earned him a Best Supporting Actor award.)
In Madhur Bhandarkar’s Jail (2009), he goes full monty on reel and has his first brush with controversy for real.
In Pradeep Sarkar’s Lafangey Parindey (2010), he is a street-fighter romancing a skater on the gritty lanes of Mumbai.
In Vishal Bhardwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf, he walks with a limp and has doubts of his sexual potency.
In Abbas-Mustan’s Players (2012), he is, well, one of the players (no, they don’t play cricket; they rob a moving train).
In Bejoy Nambiar’s David (2013), he is a gangster.
In Shortcut Romeo (2013), he is a good-for-nothing young man who throws his weight around the house.
If you think it is Prem who payo’d some ratan and dhan this Diwali, you’re wrong. It was Neil Nitin Mukesh who hit the proverbial jackpot even before the Salman Khan-starrer released last Thursday. And it had nothing to do with playing Bhai’s younger bhai in the film, but everything to do with the Game of Thrones rumour. But now that HBO has killed off his hopes so ruthlessly, just like GRR Martin does with his characters, it looks like Neil’s watch has ended even before it began.
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