Star In A New Light: Neil Nitin Mukesh
You’re a self-confessed incurable romantic. Yet, you’re going in for an arranged marriage, which may not be considered the most romantic way of finding “the one”. What made you take this route?
I think the very idea and effort of wanting to settle down is quite romantic. The criterion of “love” and “arranged” are just limitations in one’s head. I believe love and marriage are a play of destiny and fate. There’s as much a possibility of you falling head over heels for someone when it’s arranged as there is of you falling out of love when it’s not arranged. With Rukmini it really felt like she was the one from our first day of courtship and that I want to grow old with her. I was not in any hurry to settle down but sometimes when it’s meant to be it just happens. Yes, my parents have always wanted to see me with someone who could relate to me and I’m glad it happened the arranged way. Rukmini resides just five minutes away from me but we’d never met, and that’s why I believe in destiny. I’m so happy to love found me at a time when I wasn’t really looking for it. I think I can cherish it far more than I could have maybe 5 years ago. It is because I’m an incurable romantic I didn’t get cold feet with the whole arranged marriage idea and just dived straight in with all my heart and soul.
The flip side of celebrities being on social media is that they are often brutally trolled — you’ve been subjected to it too. How do you cope with it? Do you ever see yourself going off social media platforms because of trolls?
I think 70 per cent of the people on social media don’t know how to utilise it constructively. I’m on social media to connect with my fans and no amount of trolling will ever change that. At the end of the day, we are public figures and if we can’t handle criticism then we shouldn’t be in the public domain. Why would anyone be affected by people who don’t know you and have no inclination towards trying to know you? Social media lacks emotion and it’s not a place for the weakhearted. The only day I’d retire from social media is when either my family is hurt or I’m seeking nirvana. I use social media strictly to consume more information about world affairs and stay connected with people who would like to know me better but have no means of connecting with me in the real world.
If you were to discover a beautiful island where you can build your own kind of kingdom, what’s the first rule that you’ll put into place?
I’d like everybody to just chill. I’ll be a pampering king, not the dictator sorts. I’m pretty much relaxed when it comes to people wanting to do what they want to do in life. I’m only a bit of a tyrant when it comes to work because I myself am very particular and punctual. But if I’m the king I’ll have all the luxuries and not have to struggle for a living. So I’d ensure that people too get the facilities they want and have a good time.
Who’s your favourite superhero and why?
Superman remains my favourite superhero because he can fly. There are many others who can fly as well but they have to rely on some sort of mechanism or gimmick to help them move around. Take Iron Man, for instance. I love him too, but to take off, he has to make sure that his suit is all fuelled up. Superman also appeals to me because he’s like a coconut, hard from the outside and soft on the inside. Though he’s from another planet, he understands human nature better than most human beings do. A man with his kind of powers would be invincible and could achieve anything for himself. But I like that Clark Kent is as simple as a man can get, and becomes Superman only when others need him.
A superpower you wish you had…
Being able to fly would be something. In fact, I have a recurring dream of flying. But it would also be cool to become invisible. As a child, my favourite Hindi film was Mr India and I keep hoping that someday there’s a gadget that’s invented like the one Mr India wears. So yes, I’d love to disappear and see what all mischief I can do.
If an angel could grant you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice, what would it be?
Beluga, my favourite vodka.
Could you recount an embarrassing episode or experience from childhood that still makes you cringe?
It was quite embarrassing when my father had to go every year to my principal’s office, begging her to push me to the next standard. I was a terrible student because I guess from a very young age I knew what vocation I was going to go for — I started as a child actor at the age of 4. I used to do well in elocution, storytelling, writing, and art. But science, history, geography… I was hopeless.
What are you like when you get really mad? Do you break things? Sulk for days?
I’m extremely expressive, I’m not the kind of person who’ll go sulk in a room. I’ll make sure that if I’m upset with anyone I let them know. My anger stays with me for a maximum of 60 seconds. I don’t like keeping my anger, or my love for that matter, inside. I’m not going to nurse a grudge and wait for a day to get back at someone.
If you could come back from the dead and haunt someone, who would it be?
I’m a horror film fanatic and have to watch one a day. That’s what I usually do when I wind up for the night. My father and I both share the same interest. But I’m also into animation films, so it’s either spooky thrillers or those. If I could, I’d love to haunt everybody and anybody in a fun way. I’d be like Casper, the friendly ghost.
What is something that you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to?
I’ve always faced whatever I’m afraid of. Whether it’s making sure I’m at ease riding a bike despite a past two-wheeler accident, or overcoming the fear of the rope snapping during bungee jumping, or of the free-fall in sky diving, I like to take on my fears head-on. A couple of things that I’ve tried but still am not exactly comfortable with are snorkelling and scuba diving.
If you were to wake up tomorrow as an animal, what animal would you choose to be and why?
A dog. I have my baby Maximus at home and I just wish I could understand every bark of his. So I’d love to wake up as a dog and communicate with him in his language — not that I don’t understand him or his love for us, but I’d love to bark along with him and make conversation with him.