Person of the Week: Neil Nitin Mukesh


Person of the Week: Neil Nitin Mukesh

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza


n a week that saw the Great Barrier Reef die, Bob Dylan win a Nobel Prize, and a few hundred women accuse Donald Trump of sexually harassing them, it takes some special talent to be newsworthy. But one man swam against this formidable tide and managed to trend through the week, proving that he is the greatest (if most underrated) star to have ever lived. This man deserves to be deemed the Person of the Week.

We’re talking, of course, of Neil Nitin Mukesh. Google him quickly if you don’t know him, because you’re probably going to be the only person at this party. Oh and when you do, ignore the creepy article involving romance and his mother. *insert cringe here*

Neil Nitin Mukesh, for all intents and purposes is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, shoddily wrapped in yesterday’s Mumbai Mirror that got thrown out of a moving car in Versova at 4 am. Consider the blatant shit show that was Players, where he did his best to mimic Ed Norton’s stoic demeanour but wound up overdoing it, and looked like a statuesque movie prop instead. For a man with three first names, he sure has done his best to remain faceless in Bollywood.

He’s got the looks, he’s got the brains (I think), and now that he’s finally got the girl, he’s also managed to trend on all forms of social media this week. NNM announced that he was arranged to be married next year, rendering mothers across the country tearful with delirious joy.

This is apparently a really big deal on Twitter. A few people congratulated him, a few wondered who he was, but he trended because of the one joke that never gets stale: his three first names. (“He could have been the entire cast of 3 Idiots,” tweeted one wise guy.) And so, in a week chockfull of serious, hot-button topics to outrage over, Neil Nitin Mukesh gave us some much-needed comic relief. Impressive, NNM. Now try getting someone to watch one of your movies.

Neil’s fiancée Rukmini also had her moment in the sun. NNM’s family said she won them over with her “simplicity and upbringing”. Big whoop for upper-class endogamy. And Neil said he chose the arranged marriage path because he is “old school”. Thanks for the insight, Neil.

What really sets NNM apart from his Bollywood counterparts is his Grade-A level cluelessness.

But the real question is: Why the fuck do so many people care?

To understand this, is to understand the nature of celebrity culture itself. We love schadenfreude; we love it when these entitled little sods fall face-first in a puddle of murky water. Neil Nitin Mukesh has made a career out of consistently embarrassing himself. And no, we are not even talking about his filmography.

There was that time when he said in a newspaper interview that he was all set for a role on Game of Thrones. What he probably meant was, that he was offering himself up for an appearance on the fantasy show, because within hours of that news breaking, NNM had his nose rubbed in the mud. HBO had politely declined the offer.

A few days after that, no less a superstar than Salman Khan insulted him during a press conference. This happened after NNM tried to force-friend his Prem Ratan Dhan Payo co-star, by addressing him as “bhai”. Khan also declined the offer.

What really sets NNM apart from his Bollywood counterparts is his Grade-A level cluelessness. A few days ago he took a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book when he labelled himself “the most romantic person in the world”. This special talent goes hand in hand with his inability to take a joke. As a newcomer to the industry a few years ago, he threw shade at Saif Ali Khan and Shah Rukh Khan for making fun of – what else? – his three first names during an awards ceremony. An awkward silence descended upon the room when he asked the two hosts to “shut up”. Remind you of anyone? That’s right, he’s basically Kanye West minus the talent.

NNM later clarified that he lost his chill because he was proud to have three first names. “Tell me how many sons actually use their father’s name in today’s time and take their legacy forward. I am very blessed and honoured to be born in the Mukesh family. I am extremely proud to have my grandfather’s and father’s name on my shoulders,” he said. Mixing metaphors like a mofo.

If ignorance truly is bliss, Neil Nitin Mukesh ladies and gents, is truly one blissed-out bugger. And then there’s Uday Chopra, but he’s not the Person of the Week now, is he?