Dang, it’s been that long,” was his response, when we informed Athit Naik that Kal Ho Naa Ho has completed 14 years of release. Athit, who played the role of Preity Zinta’s 12-year-old younger brother, Shiv Kapur, recalls the film, as if it was shot just yesterday.
“It’s like a curveball. I can’t believe its been 14 years already. I remember everything from the shoot. When everyone was shooting the sad Kal Ho Naa Ho song sequence, with the bride leaving, Saif had got a bat and was playing baseball catches with me and Jhanak (the girl who played the role of Athit’s stepsister, Jia). Mrs Bachchan (Jaya Bachchan) used to get brownies for us on the sets and Preity taught us the New York lingo. Shah Rukh was recovering from a back surgery and he was in terrible pain. But, he shot for the film, as if nothing had happened,” recalls Athit.
However, Athit is no longer an actor. Realising his calling, the 26-year-old is now a cinematographer, who has written and produced over 300 short films, 35 music videos, three features and a TV sitcom after graduating from Columbia in 2014. “I realised that there is enough talent in the field of acting. The world needs more storytellers and people behind the camera. Therefore, I started spending more time with the DOPs. Till now, three of my short films have been to Cannes. I’m a happy man and I don’t regret quitting acting,” he says.