Says a very reliable source from the unit, "The first ever male nude sequence in a Hindi film almost didn't happen. Nikhil Dwivedi who had to do the scene copped out. The director Mani Ratnam tried to explain to him that the scene was not for titillation. It is a scene of torture of a cop. Usually its cops who are shown torturing suspected offenders. Here it's the other way around. Beera (Abhishek) and his men capture a cop played by Nikhil Dwivedi. They strip and torture him."
This is where Nikhil put his foot down. He flatly refused to perform the 'rear' feat arguing that his family and friends would be deeply mortified.
"Sir main apne ghar walon ko kya mooh dikhaonga?" Dwivedi apparently whined in front of the baffled director who isn't used to being told no.
Says the source, "All attempts to convince Nikhil to bare all failed. Mani Ratnam was at his wit's end. His assistants reminded Nikhil that the actor's counterpart in Tamil (John Vijay) had willingly bared all. But Nikhil was immovable. They finally had to get a body-double with... shall we see... similar vital statistics to stand in for Nikhil."
When contacted Dwivedi is afraid to talk, "I am not allowed to say anything. But if you're talking about full-frontal nudity then sorry I won't do it. We Indians have a certain inbuilt censorship."
While Dwivedi demurred, Rahul Bose had no qualms stripping for the camera in Dev Benegal's Split Wide Open. Ranbir Kapoor dropped the towel in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya. Even Anil Kapoor did a sequence in the buff for Shankar's Nayak. Recently, John Abraham and Neil Nitin Mukesh did police interrogation scenes in the nude in Kabir Khan's New York and Madhur Bhandarkar's Jail, respectively.
Says Rajit Kapoor, "What's the big deal about going nude for the camera? I did it in Train To Pakistan 20 years ago."
All that talk of aspiring actor Nikhil Dwivedi doing a nude sequence for Mani Ratnam's Raavan was a bit premature. The fact is, Nikhil got shy at the last minute about going all the way thereby creating a panic in the jungles where the film was shot.