There’s a lot that Hrithik Roshan and Nicholas Brown have in common apart from their fondness for the female lead of Kites, Barbara Mori on whom, Brown admits, he has a "crush". Brown’s mother grew up in Kolkata and his dad in Ooty before moving to Australia. They met and married in Sydney and he grew up in kangaroo country before coming to Mumbai in 2007.
He signed up for Rehaan Engineer’s play, How To Survive Under Seige, was recommended to the casting director of Miss Bollywood and now, is playing the second lead in Kites.
"I started singing in a choir when I was seven, joined National Institute of Dramatic Arts to learn acting and ended up playing the ‘brown guy’ in movies in Australia," he reminisces, admitting that he’d initially tried to disown his Indian origin but now wants to act in Indian musicals.
Quiz him about his Miss Bollwyood co-star Shilpa Shetty and he says she laughed a lot but was a wee bit anxious because she was doing theatre for the first time. "We’re still in touch and I met her recently at Hrithik’s place. Her mother, Sunanda aunty, tried to fix me up with a girl during Miss Bollywood," he laughs.
Wanted Krrish, got Kites
During the time, he’d sent his show reel to several filmmakers, including Rakesh Roshan too, hoping to bag a decent role in Krrish. "He called and told me they were casting for an international Indian film and asked me to meet the director Anurag Basu. He didn’t even audition me, just said that my destiny here has begun. I was surprised to hear the word ‘destiny’ spoken with such warmth and confidence," he flashbacks with a smile.
Basu asked Brown to watch a Spanish film and see if he could deliver monologue in the language. "I knew a bit of Spanish, so I started working on the language," he informs, adding that he was aware right from the beginning that being the superstar, the focus would be on Hrithik and didn’t mind playing second lead to him in his first Bollywood film.
Shooting in the middle of a desert in New Mexico, from 6 am to 7 pm, they became good friends. "Kites is a love story and the protagonists are Hrithik and Barbara. But Rakeshji invited me for a trial recently and I’m happy with the way my role has shaped up. Hopefully, I’ll get some good offers now," he asserts.
A musical with Priyanka next
Brown would love to work with Ashutosh Gowariker whose Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar he loved. Also, he’d like to do Krrish 2 with Rakesh Roshan who he thinks was a pretty good actor. "Anurag’s Gangster is one of my favourite Hindi movies. I admire Konkona Sen Sharma and Priyanka Chopra. I’d love to do a musical with Priyanka whom I met briefly at a party," he says.
Bring up the subject of racism in Australia and he says that he was really disturbed by the reports of attacks on Indians there. He says, "I too have felt the undercurrent of racism Down Under where I’m considered brown. In India, I’m white and an outsider. It’s like walking a tightrope. I see myself as a citizen of the world."