When an actor manages to impress and entertain despite a low box-office rating you know that his talent is something truly special. Nakuul Mehta is one such actor who simply flaunted his charm and sincerity on screen as Shekhar in Anil Devgan’s Haal E Dil and that was all it took for audiences to hanker for more of the handsome newcomer. The film sadly disappeared amongst the crowd of releases however critics and audiences who came across Nakuul definitely didn’t let him disappear from their thoughts. Today BollySpice catches up with the very same exuberant newcomer who sports a positive attitude and is not about to let one tiny box-office result hold him down! Read on to uncover his experiences of dealing with mixed responses for his debut film, facing the camera for the first time and most importantly, his experience of entering the somewhat intimidating yet supremely glamorous world of Indian cinema!
What was your initial reaction when you saw yourself on screen for the first time?
It was a surreal feeling. Watching myself on the big screen for the first time brought out a multitude of expressions within myself. It was a mix of epiphany, joy, a sense of relief (considering it has been a long cherished dream) and tears. It’s hard to believe, but I did get emotional, not because I fell in love with myself on screen but because in a certain sense I could see my journey get to that space whilst watching the film.
Your character was a very happy-go-lucky guy in Haal E Dil and had some very unique traits about him, so how alike are you and Shekhar, any similarities between the two?
Of course, there are similarities between the character I played and the real me. That also stems from the fact that Shekhar is not your archetypal Bollywood hero. He is as fallible ,as human, as charming and as much fun as any other young kid my age. Our senses of humour are pretty close and as bad (laughs). He loves people and so do I. In fact that’s one of the major reasons performing and feature films have always excited me. It gives me a chance to connect with people all over which I love too. Having said that, not only me, Shekher would be like a lot of other youngsters today.
Yet, in a lot of ways the character I played and I are different. I am probably more mature and practical or so I would like to believe.
How was it facing the camera for the very first time, did the fact that two other newcomers, Adhyayan and Amita, were going through the same feelings as you were make this any easier?
Honestly it wasn’t my first brush with the camera. I have modeled for over two dozen products and been in front of the camera quite a few times. In that respect, there was no fear of the camera. Yet, it was my debut film and playing the leading man in a feature film is very different from being the face in an advertisement. The moment was bigger, but once you are on floors it feels the same and it eventually comes down to the love of performance. If you have that, you could be on stage acting or on a camera; it changes only technically, the feelings and emotions all have to come from within.
The film had quite great names behind the camera such as Kumar Mangat and Anil Devgan and even onscreen you shared screen-space with actors like Tanuja, Kajol and Ajay Devgan, how was experience of working with everyone?
It only struck me while doing my interviews that I have worked with all such talented names. Whilst on floors, it felt absolutely normal and another day at work. Though I will admit, shooting with Kajol felt special.
How different was acting for a film from acting in a theatre production and did the fact that you’d done theatre prove to be an advantage?
Theatre and films are different mediums but the job remains the same – performance. There are technical differences. For e.g., in theatre your voice projection and body language play a huge part whereas while shooting on a film camera, you just have to feel and be… the camera catches every little thing.
Yet, there is a commonality in both the mediums – it’s that rush of blood when you have that prefect moment on stage or on camera. One feels great!
Having worked on stage did work to my advantage and definitely honed my skills as an actor and I would recommend it to anybody wanting to be an actor.
Unfortunately the film didn’t have the best reaction at the box office, how did you handle this?
The film did not do very well at the box office. It was disappointing but there is only so much, which is in your hands as an actor. Eventually how a film shapes will never be in your control. As they say, film is a director’s medium. What is in my control is my performance!
You once said that you do not consider yourself to be separate from your film although as I did my research I found that most if not all reviews had all things positive to say about your performance despite what they may have thought about the movie, how did this make you feel?
You’ve done some really good research to pull that one out [laughs]. Yes, I totally agree with that statement. I function not as an individual, separate from my film but as an important building block who has a significant contribution in making the film what it is and hence, I like to take some of the credit or blame for the final product. So yes, it did feel bad that the film did not garner great reviews. I was pretty confident about my own work in the film and the positive and encouraging critics review only gave me some redemption. Though what truly helped is the reaction of people who saw the film and random people walking up to me talking about how much they loved my character and some even being honest enough to admit they dint like the film as much.
What kind of roles are you most drawn towards and which genres do you think you’ll most enjoy attempting?
I like well written and defined roles. I have no particular inkling toward genres though I do enjoy watching romance and drama very much. I am absolutely open to trying out everything and anything as long as it makes an interesting watch!
Moving onto to Nakuul, off-screen, tell us what you’re most likely to be caught doing in your free time?
I love to work out and work on my fitness regime, which is going to the gym or the beach for a jog or a good game of lawn tennis. I love watching movies when not making them and you are most likely to catch me at a movie screen on a good day. Music is another passion.
How has life been in the industry thus far for you, have you made any friends in the fraternity?
It has not been a bed of roses; neither did I expect it to be. I am a fighter and will work assiduously to make sure I make my own indispensable space in this industry.
I have a couple of friends but these are guys I knew before entering the film industry. Ruslaan Mumtaz is a very dear friend and we go back a long way. Adhyayan and I have gone on to become friends post our film too.
Do you get the chance to watch many movies in your spare time?
Absolutely, I find time to watch them even during my busy times [laughs]. I enjoyed Love Aaj Kal and New York recently.
Given the chance to recreate a role on screen, which role would you choose?
Raj Kapoor in Shree 420.
Lastly, we’ll end with the million dollar question. When will we be seeing you on-screen next?!
A million dollar answer – next year summer [smiles]. I am working on something starting the next quarter and I’ll be happy to talk about it soon enough.
Well, fans that indeed is a million dollar answer but sadly not one to put an instant smile on your faces since it does require a fair amount of a wait. Of course like they say ‘patience is virtue’. So, hold on tight and keep your eyes out for this special newcomer’s every step because he’s surely here to stay!