With the 2003 film Kal Ho Naa Ho, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta, Nikhil Advani made his debut as a director and there has been no looking since. His maiden project won two National and six Filmfare awards, after which Nikhil made films such as Salaam-e-Ishq, Chandni Chowk to China, Patiala House and Delhi Safari (3D, animated).
Even though most of his subsequent films did not find commercial success, Nikhil deserves to be credited for trying his hand at different genres. The man with a vision believes in experimenting with scripts, he tells us over phone from Mumbai. His upcoming film D-Day (which stands for Doomsday), adds to his varied profile, it being an action thriller. “People who know me always knew that I would make an action thriller such as D-Day.
I can assure you that every Indian would be proud to see this film, especially in recent times when each of us has been privy to an increase in the spate of terrorist attacks,” Nikhil says about his film, which releases on July 19 and stars actors Arjun Rampal, Rishi Kapoor, Irrfan, Shruti Haasan, Huma Qureshi and Sandeep Kulkarni.
If Nikhil were asked to comment on the Indian cinema’s progress as it emerges after celebrating 100 years of filmmaking, he would say the industry has lost its ability of making out-of-the-box films. “From 1950s through 1970s, filmmakers such as Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor and Hrishikesh Mukherjee made films which dealt with everyday problems and delivered a social message,” he says, adding, “Today, filmmakers are not making such films and blaming the audience for not accepting such genres. They should be reminded that the audience also embraced films like Kahaani, Paan Singh Tomar, English Vinglish and Vicky Donor.”
Revealing more about D-Day, Nikhil says the film that has been co-written by him along with Suresh Nair (writer of Kahaani) and Ritesh Shah and has many sub-plots. “It took us a year to research on the terrorist activities that took place in India in the last 20 years. The story has four RAW agents played by Irrfaan, Huma, Aakash Dahiya and Arjun, out to get the most-wanted man (a fictional character of a terrorist played by Rishi Kapoor) to India.
During the mission, they are betrayed, but once they overcome the betrayal, they take risks to pull off the mission,” says Nikhil. The director says he has attempted to project the weak side of the government. “We have asked why the authorities can’t take action against the terrorist. In fact, the film Wednesday and D-Day differ only in that the latter had an individual’s (Naseeruddin Shah) point of view while D-Day is inspired by a nation’s dream,” he signs off.