Young and raring to go, Nikhil Advani has assisted the likes of Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra. So it was just right that he should make his first film for Karan Johar. And he has done it with Kal Ho Naa Ho. The film starring Shah Rukh, Saif Ali and Preity, is already a rage even before its release. Nikhil Advani speaks:
Tell us about your background?
I was studying at Xavier’s and I had decided that some day I would make films. Some friends took me to Saeed Mirza's office. He was then making Naya Nukkad and I ended up assisting 5 of the directors on that serial. I then assisted Saeed Mirza, Kundan Shah, Aziz Mirza and Manjul Sinha and after that I assisted Sudhir Mishra in Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin. That's where I bumped into Karan Johar.
We had been together in school. I was a batch older than him. He told me that he was going to start his own film. I knew he had assisted on Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. I went and heard his screenplay. It was fantastic. I joined him in 1997. We started working on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, which was interesting because both of us were raw as far as mainstream cinema was concerned. We made our mistakes and we grew up together. I was with him for 5 years and then he asked me to direct a film for his production house, Dharma Productions
Was this the film you wanted to make?
No, I would have liked to do a thriller because I had been trained in the genre. But Karan and Yashji thought otherwise. So we decided I direct this story that Karan had written. It was very much like a Karan film. So I tried hard to see it didn't look like a
Karan Johar film.
How has it turned out?
I am excited about it.
Was there any nervousness directing Shah Rukh?
I was a little nervous initially, but Shah Rukh is very clear about his role and one doesn't really direct him. He is clear about his character’s graph. That made me feel easy.
And, the others?
They were all superb. Jayaji's affection Preity's sunshiny support and Saif's humour – all these made shooting really memorable. And, each one has done a superb job of his or her role.