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Neil's "reality check" in New York before film's shoot

Last updated: 20 June, 2009
Mumbai PTI:

Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh was detained at an airport in the US for over an hour because the immigration officials refused to believe that he was an Indian.

Neil Nitin Mukesh


Neil Nitin MukeshNeil said that the incident happened earlier this year when he arrived in New York to shoot for Kabir Khan's film 'New York' which has a backdrop of 9/11 terror attacks.

"I can pass off as a Britisher, American, Kashmiri easily because my skin tone and complexion can blend anywhere. But this incident changed my attitude of how I will approach my role in 'New York' which also dwells upon discrimination," Neil, grandson of legendary playback singer Mukesh said.

The film is about three friends, played by John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Katrina Kaif and how their lives change forever after the terror attacks.
Neil recalled asking the official if his accent was not proof enough that he was an Indian national.

"I told him to google search my name. When he realised his folly, he was still not willing to let me go and started asking questions about my profession like what kind of films I do and why am I in New York," the actor said.

The young actor said that while leaving the immigration office finally, he thanked the official because he had found the crux of what 'New York' is all about.

Neil described 'New York' as an intelligently made film which will pick up at the box office through the word of mouth.

"Too much of publicity heightens the level of expectations and some times proves detrimental to the film's interests. We are very confident of our product," he said.
Talking about 'New York', Neil said the 9/11 terror attacks had affected everybody especially the youth and shook the entire world.

"In the film, there are three young friends from India studying in an American university campus and the incident affects their friendship," he said.
Declining to give more details, Neil said, "The friendship is affected in a certain way. Whether in a good or bad way is the question and the crux of the film."

Neil said co-stars Katrina Kaif and John Abraham are great human beings.
"Off screen they are good friends and their chemistry shows on screen," he said.
Neil did not know Katrina earlier and said he was skeptical to work with her initially.
"But I found her to be very down to earth. New York is her best performance to date," the actor said.

When asked if the film was a love triangle, Neil said there was an element of love. But the bond of friendship is more important.
"Unfortunately, in our society, we are unable to accept that a girl and boy can be the best of buddies," he said.

To a question about whom Katrina is paired opposite in the film, the actor said, "She is paired opposite both of us. Katrina's character is torn between me and John."

The actor, who is a self-confessed fan of Salman Khan, said that he met Salman Khan for the first time on the sets of 'Dus ka Dum 2' where he and Katrina promoted 'New York'.
"I was very nervous because I am a fan of Salmanbhai. But, he made me feel very comfortable. He gave lot of gifts for me and my brother including T-shirts of 'Being Human', his charity and a watch for my father," the young actor said.

Neil, who started his bollywood career with crime-thriller 'Johnny Gaddar' said that his 'adventurous' nature made him decide to become an actor.

"It is the reason that I wanted to become an actor. I want to know what's happening around the world and being an actor gives me that privilege of exploring the changes. Films are fictitious only to a certain extent. You can't fake everything," he said.

"In New York, I got to live a life of a campus student in a foreign university and was shocked to see that discrimination does exist. I have student friends in Australia who tell me that they are very scared after the recent incidents of violence against Indian students," Neil added.


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