Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh, who is playing antagonist in upcoming Tamil actioner "Kaththi", says he's gone back to the days of "Johnny Gaddar" for the look of his role in the new film. He says audiences will get to see a "leaner and sharper" Neil in the film.
"I'm shooting for two films simultaneously - 'Kaththi' and the Salman Khan-starrer with Sooraj Barjatya. I've designed my looks in such a way that I could easily blend into both the characters. For 'Kaththi', I've gone back to the days of 'Johnny Gaddar', which is an inspiration for my look in the film," Neil told IANS.
"I shed about 10 and a half kg for 'Kaththi' and reduced about four and half inches on the waist. I wanted the puffiness of the face to go down, so that I could look leaner and sharper," he added.
In the film, which is being directed by A.R. Murugadoss, Neil assures he doesn't play an "typical villain".
"It's not a typical villain role you see in the south (southern film industry). I play an extremely polished character, a north Indian who speaks Tamil, well read and foreign-returned. As a villain, I don't fight the hero with physical power, but with intelligence," he said.
"I think these qualities make my role scarier because it's not easy to tackle someone who is villainous and intelligent at the same time. These layers of shades attracted me to the role," he added.
He says he also took efforts to learn Tamil, which is alien to him.
"This is a very challenging role and I wanted to push myself to the edge for it. To try and speak the language, learn the expressions and understand what I was saying, I had to learn Tamil. In a way, it was interesting because it felt like going back to school to unlearn and relearn," said Neil, who calls Murugadoss "a fine technician".
"I was impressed with him because he approached me after doing his homework. He's watched several of my films and liked my work particularly in 'Johnny Gaddar', and designed my character keeping in mind the roles I've done so far. He's a fabulous director and you'll always find him relaxed on the sets," he said.
Neil admits that Murugadoss's success as a filmmaker mattered to him and lured him to sign the project.
"Every actor wishes to be handled by a good director. Tamil being a new industry and language for me, I wanted to work with the finest in the business and Murugadoss happens to be that. I knew that he would handle me very well and therefore I didn't have to think twice before signing," he added.
"Kaththi" also features superstar Vijay and Neil feels, "he's one of the finest people in the industry".
"I still can't believe he's a superstar because he never behaves like one. He is always humble and very friendly. He's supportive and very encouraging. I feel really lucky to have Vijay and Murugadoss as a team to work with in my Tamil debut," he said.
"Kaththi", which is slated for Diwali release, also features Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Tota Roy Chaudhary in important roles.