INTERVIEW: Nikkhil Advani on The Empire & digital revolution: ‘Manoj Bajpayee is biggest star on OTT today’

Updated on Aug 23, 2021 11:46 AM IST  |  126K
   
INTERVIEW: Nikkhil Advani on The Empire & digital revolution: ‘Manoj Bajpayee is biggest star on OTT today’
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Nikkhil Advani is a busy man with multiple projects gearing up for a release on different platforms. He is associated with the Mitakshara Kumar directed epic, The Empire, in the capacity of a creator and producer. It’s based on Empire of The Moghul and Nikkhil Advani informs that his streaming partner, Disney+Hotstar had no limitations on the budget front. “We know for a fact that the team at Disney+Hotstar has gone out of the way to give us the budget we were asking for,” Nikkhil informs.

The filmmaker is honored to be on board the creator of a show based on a global best seller. “It’s actually Uday Shankar’s baby, as it is one of his favorite books. His team passed on the book to me and I am honored and humbled that they think of me as a collaborator in true sense. The idea was to bring something to the table that no one has seen before and honestly, I didn’t want to limit the vision, imagination and creativity of the director. The whole idea was to transport the audience into a world not seen before.” The series features Kunal Kapoor, Dino Morea, Shabana Azmi, Drashti Dhami and Aditya Seal among others.

The idea was to bring something to the table that no one has seen before and honestly, I didn’t want to limit the vision, imagination and creativity of the director.
Nikkhil Advani

While Nikkhil was creatively involved in all aspects of the show, it is directed by Mitakshara Kumar. Ask Nikkhil if he ever had a difference of opinion with his director given that every creative person comes with their own school of thoughts. “I would be dishonest if I said no. For The Empire, I had visualized it to be a little darker and in the realistic space, but then I realized that there is a tone and texture that Mitakshara is going for and it’s working very well for the series,” he smiles.

Dino Morea returns to acting in the negative space as Muhammad Shaybani. Ask Nikkhil about the casting and he reasons, “Dino and I have been talking over a couple of months before we got into the casting of The Empire. I felt Dino's physicality will be very interesting for the character – he has a gentle swag being a Bandra boy and I wanted to bring that in since it’s a larger-than-life character in the book itself.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought in a digital revolution. This in turn has led to a discussion on social media about the parallel concept of OTT stardom. “I think OTT stardom does exist. Radhika Apte, Pankaj Tripathi, Manoj Bajpayee are all OTT stars. I know for a fact that if any of these people show interest in my project, it would make the casting process easier. Manoj is possibly the biggest star on OTT today and it’s a great thing. Today, if I tell a platform about Manoj showing interest in my subject, the process ahead would become quicker.”

I think OTT stardom does exist. Radhika Apte, Pankaj Tripathi, Manoj Bajpayee are all OTT stars. I know for a fact that if any of these people show interest in my project, it would make the casting process easier
Nikkhil Advani

However, the filmmaker continues to believe in the power of big screen entertainment. “The audience will go back to the cinema halls once they reopen and they are waiting for the big star vehicle. As producers, we are clear that the world does not end between Andheri and Bandra. The world of cinema outside Mumbai is very vast and they are waiting for the big ticket film.” He promises a theatrical release of John Abraham fronted Satyameva Jayate 2 directed by Milap Zaveri.

His production, Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway went on floors on August 11. The filmmaker reveals that the shoot will be wrapped up by October. “We had a tremendous amount of research and workshop with Rani Mukerji. We are glad that she will be playing the lead in this great story,” he says.  And finally, what next as a director for him for the big screen? “My next directorial is something that everyone is looking forward to. Let me give you a hint. It’s a part two of a film that most people think is my best till date,” he winks and signs off.

Also Read| INTERVIEW: Sidharth Malhotra on Shershaah & the digital world: ‘It wouldn’t have disappointed at Box Office’

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