New Delhi: Actress-producer Dia Mirza turned a make-up artist for her brother-in-law Nikhil Sangha's short film that deals with a woman working in the porn industry.
Nikhil donned multiple hats for the short, "Happy Anniversary", but he let Dia take charge of the make-up department.
"Dia was extremely supportive and encouraging. She really liked the concept of the film and stepped up with the one department that I have absolutely no knowledge on," Nikhil told IANS in an email interview.
"I remember when I went up to her and asked her for her help, she said 'This is an offer that I can't refuse'. While on set, she also said 'You don't need make-up...you are already all red'."
Nikhil is the writer, producer and performer of the project.
"In the early stages of an actor's career, I feel it is often necessary and deeply rewarding to don the many hats of a writer, performer and producer in order to create a film like 'Happy Anniversary'.
"In doing so, it allowed me to showcase my thought and craft and most importantly to be able to express freely and give it the required structure," he said.
"While I continue to be a working actor, writing comes naturally to me so I never considered it as an extra hat, but yes producing the film on a shoe-string budget was a new, challenging and eventually rewarding experience for me," added the "Neerja" actor.
The idea of the film stemmed from a gender change exercise as part of an acting workshop.
"I felt the story of such a woman, whose life is very challenging and layered with multiple emotions - owing to the graph of a porn actor needed to be told. In doing so, it also helped me push the boundaries and transform myself physically, mentally and emotionally," he said.
"Coincidentally, with National Girl Child Day being celebrated on January 24, I feel the release of the film could not be better timed," he added.
As an actor, he has many web series lined up.
"In 'Law and Honour', which is a legal drama, I'm essaying the role of a senior litigator, while in 'Flesh', I play an NGO activist. In 'Four More Shots Please', I'm playing a comical male chauvinist NRI and in 'India Strikes', which is based on the Uri attacks, I'm playing the character of an editor-in-chief of a news channel," Nikhil said.
The digital space, he feels, has opened up the doors to great character-driven roles, "supplementing the artiste with more time, stay and storyline".
Sreaming platforms like Netflix and Hotstar recently signed and agreed to follow a new industry code of conduct and self-regulation for online content in India.
Asked about it, he said: "I think in a country like ours, some amount of self-regulation and a code of conduct is the need of the hour. While the digital arena doesn't come with any boundaries, restrictions and censorship currently, it still needs to shoulder some responsibility in the kind of content it puts out."