Nitesh Tiwari who co-directed Chillar Party with Vikas Bahl has just delivered his first success as an independent director.
And the shy filmmaker is in a jubilant mood, "We were working on a concept that wasn't time-tested. We could've lost the audience. But they've accepted the film so warmly. It feels good."
Bhoothnath Returns, currently showing to packed houses not only has a very talented child actor Parth Bhalerao at the helm, the child is acknowledged as the hero of the show by none other than his formidable co-star Amitabh Bachchan himself!
Tiwari who earlier worked with a bevy of child actors in Chillar Party feels connecting with children without patronizing them is of utmost importance. "It would've been suicidal to bring Parth into the project unless I was sure about him. God forbid if after shooting I realized he wasn't right for the role. It would've been impossible to replace him."
Nitesh has gone through the heartbreaking process of asking child actors to leave while shooting. "It's happened a number of times while I was shooting my ads. Children, who sparkled when I met them, froze in front of the camera. It was very painful to replace them. During this film or my earlier feature Chillar Party, I couldn't afford the luxury of working with kids who couldn't deliver what I expected them to. In Bhoothnath Returns we were working on a very tight schedule. Any glitch would have been destructive."
Nitesh confesses Parth was not the first and final choice for Akhrot. "Unlike Chillar Party where every child was just right for every character, Parth wasn't the full and final choice for Akhrot. I selected him because he already had a Marathi film behind him and knew how to occupy camera space in a feature film. Also more importantly, Parth wasn't intimidated by Bachchan Saab. That was very important. The boy Akhrot and the ghost had to share screen space throughout. The child actor had to be relaxed in Bachchan Saab's company. Parth performed without the least self-consciousness."
The director gives the Big B full credit for taking the child under his wings. "He treated Parth like a friend. Just see his graciousness! Everywhere in all the promotions for the film, Bachchan Saab lets Parth take centre stage."
Nitesh's next film won't have children at its helm. "It's just a coincidence that my first two films featured kids in a central roles. My next film would be a complete departure from these two films."
Nitesh's next would be produced by UTV.
Incidentally Nitesh's colleague VikasBahl who co-directed Chillar Party with him has also delivered a big success Queen very recently.
Vikas Behl has not seen Bhoothnath Returns.
Says Nitesh, "I saw Queen. I loved it. Vikas has not yet found the time to see my film."