Filmmaker Nikkhil Advani has revealed that his Kal Ho Naa Ho star Shah Rukh Khan ‘absolutely hated’ his death scene in the film, and compared it unfavourably to the one in Devdas, which he had just filmed.
In an interview, Nikkhil spoke about what he told Shah Rukh at the time. After working as an assistant director for a decade, Nikkhil made his directorial debut with Kal Ho Naa Ho, which also featured Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan.
Asked about the importance of death scenes in Shah Rukh’s films, he told Film Companion, “Yes, but Shah Rukh absolutely hated the death scene of Kal Ho Naa Ho. He kept saying, ‘You’re too irreverent, not giving it any respect’. He was also shooting Devdas at the same time in which he had a spectacular death scene. He kept saying, ‘Usse kehte hain death scene (Now that’s a death scene’. I explained to him that I was looking at death as a comma, not a full stop.”
Nikkhil said that the easiest actor to work with was the late Irrfan Khan, to the extent that their collaboration on D-Day changed the way he worked on set. He said, “What I am today post D-Day is because of him. He taught me how to approach my work. He said stop taking everything so seriously. ‘Tu monitor ke peechhe baith aur mazze le, and we’ll do our thing. Just enjoy yourself’. Now that’s how I work. It’s how I made Mumbai Diaries. I’d come to set and figure. It’s very unnerving for everyone around me!”
After D-Day, Nikkhil directed films such as Batla House and produced films such as Airlift and BellBottom. He also co-directed the Amazon Prime Video series Mumbai Diaries 26/11 alongside Nikhil Gonsalves.