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    Neil Nitin Mukesh talks action, fitness routine and why it pays to be the bad guy in cinema

    Neil Nitin Mukesh is thrilled with the massive, high-octane action sequence that wraps up Sooraj Barjatya’s Salman Khan starrer, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP). Set to hit theatres by Diwali, the action scene is directed by Hollywood’s Greg Prowell. “The sword fighting sequence is one-of-a-kind and we haven’t seen action like that on the big screen in some time now,” says Mukesh, adding, “Ever since I was a kid with my action figure of He-Man and his sword, I’ve always wanted to do something like this. Prowell has executed it very well. It was more like a dance actually, with coordinated and graceful movements. After this, I hope to do a really hardcore battle sequence.”
    In PRDP, a family drama that sees Khan in a double role, Mukesh essays the role of Ajay Singh, Khan’s younger brother. A prince and a rebel without a cause, he is also the antagonist in the film.

    Testing waters
    The 33-year-old recently bagged the award for Best Actor in a Negative Role at the South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA), for AR Murugadoss’ Kaththi—a film that  also marked Mukesh’s debut in Tamil cinema. He says Kaththi came at the right time, when he’d wanted to move out of his comfort zone. “I was intimidated because the language and people were new; debuting makes you attentive. The best part about my character in Kaththi was that he’s not typically a baddie. When you don’t expect him to do something bad, he does it,” shares Mukesh.
    After two stints as a child actor, it was Sriram Raghavan’s 2007 Johnny Gaddaar that saw Mukesh on his official outing as an actor and an antagonist – a role that has served him well. “Being bad has always been good for me. Except for Players, most of my other baddies are quite situational. I like playing bad guys because it’s not a very easy job — you have to understand the psyche of the character,” he shares.
    While negotiations for his Telugu debut, with Bahubali’s Prabhas are still on, in the pipeline are Wazir with Amitabh Bachchan and his new music single. “Initially, everyone was confused about whether Mukesh’s (his grandfather, the renowned playback singer) grandson was making his debut as an actor or a singer. Now that people know I act, I’m bringing out a single by the end of this year,” he says. He will also been seen in an international party mix with West Indies cricketer, Dwayne Bravo.

    Prem Ratan Dhan Payo releases in November.

    Need to know
    On fitness: My body is my factory, my product. This is what I have to sell. I maintain my diet, but I never say no to milk chocolate. I don’t endorse artificial help either because you could have a six-pack, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit,” says Mukesh. Cardio, he shares, is a must. “I train six times a week for two hours daily, with focus on one body part daily. And my cardio isn’t limited to the treadmill. It could be swimming, cycling—anything that pushes you,” he says. Sunday is his cheat day, and he usually likes to get in some extra hours of sleep, adds Mukesh.

    Nikita Puri


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