Hollywood treats all actors equally: Nalneesh Neel on The White Tiger
Learn more about Balram’s vitiligo-afflicted mentor in Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger
The White Tiger tells the story of Balram (Adarsh Gaurav), an oppressed-caste boy who gets hired as a driver to a wealthy couple, played by Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra.
When Balram moves to Gurgaon with his new employers, he is taken in by his city peers. A constant presence is actor Nalneesh Neel, as the lead driver in Balram’s apartment block. Identified only as ‘Vitiligo’ in the film, Nalneesh is a sly, funny presence, making fun of Balram’s country-bred ways but also looking out for him. In a darkly comic scene, he explains to Balram how he won’t die of malaria, but dengue will surely get him.
Nalneesh has previously appeared in films like Gulabo Sitabo, Chhichhore, Bhor and Raees. The White Tiger marks his first international venture.
"I have been a great fan of (director) Ramin Bahrani,” Nalneesh shares. “I believe he has made some truly world-class films such as 99 Homes and Chop Shop. He always made me feel comfortable during the shoot. His presence on the sets urged me to deliver the best each time.”
Since his character has vitiligo, Nalneesh was sent to London for the makeup and look test. It took around 3-4 hours to achieve the look during the test.
"I'm essaying the head of all drivers, who assigns work to other drivers,” Nalneesh says. “He trains Balram and influences him to dominate others and become cunning. My character basically teaches him to use his wit and escape from poverty.”
He recalls director Ramin Bahrani praising him after the shoot. “The best part was that he praised my work and said, 'You don't know how much I love you in this film. You enhance the character and the film.'”
The experience, Nalneesh adds, has been hugely motivating. “This is my first international project and through this project, I got to learn the difference between working in Hollywood and Bollywood. The best part was all the actors were treated equally and got so much respect; it enhanced my learning."