Highway star

Neil Bhoopalam never looked back after he was picked to be a radio jockey at the age of 19

  • Published 19.04.15

Life is about different turning points and not just one. As a youngster I was never great at studies. My father was in the aviation industry and often travelled for work. Since my mother missed him a lot, I would try my best to entertain her by doing little acts like changing my voice or imitating an actor. She would enjoy that a lot.

I did my graduation from National College, Mumbai, in Mass Media. I never fared well at written exams but was excellent at oral exams. I had no fear of performing in front of people.

In 2002, when I was in college and just 19, I was selected as a radio jockey for an FM channel. I really enjoyed going live on air but the radio station wanted a greater commitment from me. So I quit and focused on my studies instead. And one fine day, theatre director Atul Kumar came to college to select actors for his play, Voices. I auditioned and bagged a role. That was one of the biggest milestones in my life.

In one of Atul’s plays, Noises Off, I was a substitute for actor Vijay Krishna Acharya (who later directed films like Dhoom 3 and Tashan). During a performance, Vijay dislocated his shoulder on stage and I replaced him though I was completely unprepared. However, the audience thought that my entry was part of the show. That turned out to be one of our best shows. I went on to work as an actor with some of the great directors like Rehaan Engineer and Rajat Kapoor.

I made my Bollywood debut with Mera Dil Leke Dekho in 2006. I also joined Channel V as a VJ in 2007 and the same year I was offered a small role in Britz, a TV serial for Channel Four, UK. I enjoyed doing whatever came my way and everything that I did helped me grow as an actor. I went on to do Bollywood films including No One Killed Jessica and Shaitan. My role in 2013 TV show 24 was well received. More recently, working in NH-10 opposite Anushka Sharma has been a new high in my career.

I met Nandini Shrikent, a casting director, during the audition of the Abhinay Deo’s film, Game. I didn’t get the role —  but the girl, and we subsequently got married.

Having your life partner in the same profession is a blessing. Nandini understands the pressures of this industry and knows how to deal it with calmly.

I believe that small choices you make help you take big decisions in life.

(As told to Sarbani Sen)