From movies at Menoka to Mukta debut

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By NISHAN NANAIAH IS READY TO CYCLE KICK HIS WAY INTO BOLLYWOOD Pratim D. Gupta What's your first impression of Nishan Nanaiah? Tell
  • Published 1.06.11

Subhash Ghai, the showman of our times, has launched many a big star down the decades. From Manisha Koirala to Mahima Chaudhary, he has been instrumental in kickstarting many starry careers in Bollywood. His forthcoming release Cycle Kick, which arrives on June 10, marks the Hindi film debut of Calcutta boy Nishan Nanaiah, who’s already quite a draw down south. t2 caught up with Nishan who grew up in Lake Gardens and Behala and is now ready to take on the big boys of Bandra and Juhu.

Tell us a little about your Calcutta connection...

The connection to Calcutta is not “little”. My entire life, my entire entity is because of Calcutta. My schooling was in Julien Day and Apeejay and I did my graduation from St. Xavier’s College. Most of my free time I used to spend in my tennis club Dakshin Kalikata Sansad and in cinema halls like Priya and Menoka. I used to love watching movies... first day first show.

How did acting in movies come into the picture?

I did my post-graduation in acting from FTII Pune. That experience was amazing. Whatever little acting I know is because of that course. I owe my entire life to that place and to all my gurus who taught me there, especially Naseer Sir (Naseeruddin Shah) and Ravi Sir (late Ravi Baswani).

How did the connection with Subhash Ghai happen?

After completing FTII, when I came to Mumbai, I had no filmi connections. The only people I knew were my batchmates from FTII. We only had each other for support in our good as well as our bad times. I went from door to door of the production houses with my photographs, just like a salesman. Whichever production house I had gone for auditions, most of them had one thing to say: “Aapka audition toh achcha hai par ek problem hai... aap known face nahin ho.” Thankfully Subhashji thought otherwise. After innumerable auditions and rejections, finally he liked my audition and I was in. He was confident that I could pull off this role in Cycle Kick. Hence I got into his legendary Mukta parivaar (smiles).

Why did you go and do films down south?

These are things or signals which make me believe that destiny is fixed. When I was busy auditioning for movies in Mumbai, I suddenly got two very interesting offers from the south, which I couldn’t ignore. One was a Telugu film opposite the leading female star there, Charmee. The movie’s name was Manorama. The script was really very nice and the film gave me a lot of critical appreciation. The second one was for a Malayalam film Rithu, directed by the National Award-winning director Shyamaprasad. Rithu did very well critically and it also ran for 60 days. After that I did around five Malayalam films and one Tamil film. At present I am shooting for a Tamil/Kannada/Malayalam trilingual. Destiny had this beautiful industry in store for me.

Isn’t it funny that hardly anyone knows you in Calcutta where you grew up while you are quite a star in the south?

To be very honest, I don’t like this word star being used for every other actor. The star word should be used for actors like Rajesh Khanna, Rajinikanth, Mr Bachchan, Mithunda, Kamal Haasan, the three Khans of Bollywood, Hrithik, Akshay, Surya, Vikram, Prosenjit da... People with whose names the entire theatre gets filled and whose ticket prices reach exorbitant amounts in black. I am just a newcomer who’s trying to act as honestly as possible.

Cycle Kick has been lying ready for so long. Has it been frustrating waiting for the release?

There’s the famous saying in Hindi... “Waqt se pehle aur naseeb se zyada kisi ko kuch nahin milta.” I think it’s true. Our industry has really grown and matured in the last couple of years and so I would say this is the the perfect time to release a film with newcomers. As for the wait, it felt like eternity. It was my dream since childhood that I become an actor. I literally ate, slept and drank movies. Cinema is the only topic, I think, I’ve ever known.

Are you open to acting in Bengali films?

Definitely! Why not? West Bengal is my state! Calcutta is there in my blood. I am looking forward to working in a Bengali film. In fact, talks are on. I’ll definitely continue with the Hindi film industry or for that matter with any industry as long as I get good scripts. For me it’s not Bolly, Kolly or Tollywood... it’s the Indian film industry. Language no bar... films baar baar. (Laughs out loud.)

As a salesman, sell your movie to our readers in one line...

People should watch Cycle Kick because it’s a movie that has been made straight from the heart... an honest attempt to make good cinema and entertain everyone.