2005: thats when My Brother Nikhil, my first film was released. 2011: the screenplay of My Brother Nikhil has just got released. I realise that picking one favourite scene is very difficult, because there are so many memories connected with each scene, so many new meanings that the film has for me after six years. But since I have to select, let me pick a couple that are of special significance...
The first one is where Navin Kapoor (Victor Banerjee), Nikhils (Sanjay Suri) father, comes to meet him and asks him to return home.
STUDY – NIGHT GOA DECember 24, 1991 INT. of nigels house
Nigel (Purab Kohli) and Nikhil are discussing Nikhils diary.
NIGEL: Which year was this?
NIKHIL: 84, 85, I dont remember, ask Anu.
Mr Kapoor walks in. He looks much more aged. There is a long silence during which Nigel leaves the room, closing the door behind him. Nikhil looks at his dad. Mr Kapoor sits down. Nikhil is almost sobbing.
NIKHIL: I have been waiting for you since the past two years Dad. I suppose Ive let you down.
MR KAPOOR: Youve always made me very proud son.
NIKHIL: Dad, just as in my childhood days, assure me once again that this is just a bad dream. And it will pass.
MR KAPOOR: Come, lets go home. Mom is waiting for you. We will all celebrate new year together.
When Navin discovers that his son is HIV+ and also gay, he rejects him and throws him out of his house. With the support of his sister Anamika and lover Nigel, Nikhil fights for his dignity and social acceptance for two years. They win the legal battle, but what Nikhil longs for is the acceptance at home. I remember an article that came out in San Francisco Chronicle about My Brother Nikhil. The headline read Bringing it Home. Its about the significance of acceptance at home.
That scene was largely inspired by my dads relationship with me. I remember, as a child, I too used to get a lot of nightmares. Then I would go to my parents room and hug my dad and sleep. I just knew that with his touch I was safe. He has always been this one person who takes care of everything. I remember my dad telling me after watching the film, but we were never such harsh parents to you and I told them but its not you. But today when I look back at the entire film I think so much of it is like me, even more than Dominique DSouza... and recent incidents have made this film even more special.
My sister Irene became what Anu was for Nikhil and now I understand what it means for Nikhil to be able to come back. My dad and mom called me from Calcutta and told me we love you for what you are, and want to spend our life by your side. I realised that with the gift of their unconditional love I AM a much stronger person and can be proud of who I AM. The true significance of that scene has finally arrived home...
My other favourite scene...
ext. of nikhils house VERANDAH — NIGHT
Anamika (Juhi Chawla) comes and sits besides Nigel, taking his arm.
ANAMIKA: Is he sleeping?
NIGEL: Aunty is with him.
ANAMIKA: How is he?
Nigel shakes his head.
NIGEL: Go in, he was remembering you.
ANAMIKA: I cant go in...
NIGEL: You have to be strong Anu.
ANAMIKA: I cant be strong anymore. I cant be strong… Tell him that Ive gone away… I cant see him like this. I dont want to cry in front of him.
She breaks down. Nigel hugs her.
This is the last day of Nikhils life, when the entire family knows that he might breathe his last anytime. Anamika, who has been this strong sister all through the film — never breaking down and just fighting on — finally confesses that she cannot keep that up anymore. I remember that while shooting this scene, I was so moved emotionally that I could not say cut. I was crying. Finally Arvind, my DoP, called cut.