‘Jodhaa Akbar is my first step towards Hindi films’ – Nikitin Dheer

Nikitin Dheer is as strong and suave as the new generation actors come. At 6’ 4”, he is handsome and qualified. Being third generation film man, he knows what it takes. Nikitin’s father, Pankaj Dheer is well-known actor-producer while his grandfather, C L Dheer was producer of as many as 19 Hindi films.


Nikitin, only among 10 civilians to undergo black cat commando training in unarmed combat and black belt, makes his debut with Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Jodhaa Akbar as the main antagonist, a character only third in importance after Hrithik’s Akbar and Aishwarya’s Jodhaa. Nikitin’s second film is Popcorn Entertainment’s Mission Istanbul, directed by Apoorva Lakhia.




Being an actor’s son, was acting your only goal?

Yes, it was and is my only goal.


When did you realise that you wanted to become an actor? What was your father Pankaj Dheer’s reaction to your decision?

I think when I was around eight years old visiting the sets of Mahabharat, I just loved the energy. Dad was always supportive, but warned me that it was far from being a smooth and flowery road, that it was full of perils, ups and downs and that I should be the best I can be and that was most important.


Did you undergo any formal training?

Yes. I have been training towards my goal of films since I was 18. I have trained for nine years in martial arts. I am the tenth civilian to do a course in unarmed commando combat training and am a black belt in it. I am also certified from the USA in ‘Jeet Kune Do’ a martial art founded by Bruce Lee.


Apart from that I have learnt film fighting as well under Mr. Moses Fernandes, have learnt dance from Saroj Ji’s academy. And, as far as acting is concerned, I have had very hands on practical training, reading parts in plays, watching my friends enact plays and numerous auditions have given me immense self confidence in front of the camera. I am also trained in voice and diction under Mr.Mukul Shrivastava for a year and, above all, my father has been a guiding force.


What was your first step towards acting in Hindi films?

Well it is Jodhaa Akbar.< Page Break >


Why did you opt for Jodhaa Akbar where you play main antagonist to Hrithik’s Akbar? You could have gone for a solo starrer or may be some other film. Do you think you’ve taken a right decision by debuting with Jodhaa Akbar?

Well, I could have, but the thing is that I did not get a film that I was looking for as a solo lead. While I was still looking for work, I met Ashutosh Gowarikar who was casting for his film. I gave the audition just like very many actors and, fortunately, I was selected within three hours of the audition.


It was like a dream. Here I was getting a huge break, but then the happiness faded slightly when I was offered the negative lead as I always wanted to do a positive character for a start. But Ashutosh sir explained how it was a grey character and not the run of the mill villain. So, then, I thought about it, about sharing screen space with someone like Hrithik who is a phenomenal actor and being directed by an Oscar nominated director.


I could not have gotten a platform like this in a solo lead film, so I think I made the right decision because I did not want to wait anymore and a film like this comes an actor’s way once in a lifetime as not many historical are made nowadays. In fact, I am very grateful for getting such an opportunity, to be a part of such a vast canvas.


Tell us about your first scene.

The first scene we shot was the same one I had auditioned for so there was a certain level of ease as I knew the graph of the dialogues that was required, the pitch and I was comfortable with the dialogues. But I had these butterflies in my stomach because the day I had dreamt about all my life was finally here and I wanted to make my director feel he had made the right decision my casting me in such a strong character.


I wanted to get it right from the word go! And, fortunately, I did and the whole unit clapped on my first shot. It was great feeling. I will cherish it for a lifetime.


How was it working with Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan?

As I said, I am huge fan of Hrithik and have admired him since his first film. It was an honour to work with him. He is like an elder brother and guided me every step of the way. I would always ask his advice when I was stuck approaching a scene and he was extremely generous and even shared his food with me on the sets. He is by far one of the most humble people I have met.


I loved the few times we hit the gym together during our outdoor schedule and I hope we train together again sometime soon. All I can say is that I have learnt how to be a better actor because of him, but more than that he has taught me how to be a better person. And I thank him from the bottom of my heart for it.


Unfortunately, I do not have any scenes with Aishwarya in the film but I did exchange pleasantries a few times on the sets and really missed the opportunity this time to work with her but sincerely hope I do get an opportunity in the future as I think she is a superb actress and by far the prettiest lady in our industry. 


What’s this controversy over Jodhaa Akbar credits?

Well all I want to say is that I am extremely thankful to Mr. Ashutosh Gowarikar for giving me a break with such a strong role, giving me a chance to show my talent on such a huge canvas. I am sincerely grateful to him.


Did you see the film? How did you like yourself? What’s your father’s view on your acting?

I have not seen the film, and nor has my father. < Page Break >


What according to you are your assets as an actor?

I think my hard work, perseverance, commitment towards my work and my belief in me are my biggest assets.


You have also signed Mission Istanbul. Tell us something about your role in the film.

In Mission Istanbul I play a character which is on the other end of the spectrum as compared to Jodhaa Akbar. I play a young flamboyant character, who owns a news channel in Istanbul. I had a blast working with Apoorva Lakhia. He is one of the finest people I have met and is someone I can do anything for. He showed immense faith in me and that helped me to do my job to the best of my ability.


Who are your idols in Hindi films?

I have many idols in the industry. I am a huge fan Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan. But my all time favourite actor is Kishore Kumar.


Your father made it big on the television but not on big screen. What’s your take? Do you think you’ll be able to make your father proud of you?

My dad is a superb actor but an actor can only express himself if he has the opportunities, and I feel he has not got the roles which bring out the best in him and whenever he has, he has never disappointed. With television, the roles he played were far more varied and interesting hence he achieved far more success in television. As far as making him proud is concerned, I really I make him proud both as a son and as an actor


Your grandfather, C L Dheer was a filmmaker who made as many as 19 films. Have you seen any of his films? If yes, then which ones do you like?

I have not seen many of his films, unfortunately. I have only seen two one was Bahu Beti and the other Aalingan. My grandfather made women oriented films and his central characters were always women. His films delivered a social message without sounding preachy. That was something great about them.