So you are just nineteen and have made it to one of India’s top Engineering Institutes at Vellore. Your parents are overjoyed, you are on top of the world. The campus is beautiful, it has a railway line running through it! You just have to put your head down to your book and study; once you get out your successful future is all laid out before you.
But you find it difficult to concentrate surrounded by so many other students. You are an only child, a loner. Then when you are trying to concentrate on your books, the trees and flowers beckon you outside. Nature, instead of being an inspiration, is a distraction. The river bank want let you go back to your classroom. And before you know it, your worst fears have materialized. You have failed – you have flunked! Not one or two, but almost all the exams you took. Some, you never took.
Never mind. Never mind that, the breeze breaths to you. The rippling waters flowing past order you to listen to their story. Trees bend down in blessing as you write it. And while your classmates give their exams, you write your first book –
I wrote your name in the sky
Unlike many campus romances, this isn’t one. It is spiritual, it is a thought process. But still it sells. It gets published.
And then there is no looking back for Nikhil – Dr. Nikhil Chanwani now, having been bestowed an honorary Doctorate by an American university and another from IGNOU in the pipeline.
Course of life changes. Life itself becomes the teacher. A guy who used to get 96 – 97% in PCM, after dropping from Engineering says he used his scientific temperament and training to explore the past looking for unsung heroes. Uses scientific knowledge to write and create poems. Which he says poetically, how else? – Are nothing but “broken lines with hidden emotions”.
The commercial success of the book brings communications from strange and new places. A mail asking him if he would like to collaborate in writing a script for a Hollywood movie. Not just any movie but one with Nicolas Cage in it. Nikhil ends up helping create content also for it. It was shot extensively in India and ‘Saffron Skies’ should see release soon.
Next comes ‘Escape from Kenya’. A wonderful, miracle filled documentary that showed that love, compassion and ‘humanity’ can exist in the deepest,darkest jungles among the most ferocious beasts. You have to see it to believe it!
This ‘escape’ echoes the escape Nikhil made from a life that would have been meaningless for him if he had not heeded his intuition and instead forced himself to the Engineering grind.
And now 21, Nikhil says I must be the only example in the world who a year after flunking engineering exams had a question about me appearing in Engineering, IAS exams and being asked in Pakistan too. The question was a multiple choice section where it was asked ‘who wrote Coded Conspiracy’ (Nikhil’s second book) and has Chetan Bhagat as one of the options.
Who says a quitter cannot be a winner? Asks Nikhil.
He is all ready with his first film now. A proper commercial Bollywood movie but shot with Bengali actors and musicians. It is tentatively called She and awaiting clearance from the Censor Board.
He has produced it only, with everything else being handled by professionals. “All by my own money” Nikhil says proudly.
Apart from this enterprise, he goes as visiting faculty to colleges in Goa, colleges in Mumbai and Pune.
How did he achieve all this at such a young age? He replies simply –
“life is a training course. If you fail in one course, go to the next. Actions are not part of your spirit, your emotions are. If you are able to control your emotions, your spirit will soar free. You can achieve anything”.
Nikhil’s awards are testimony to his achievements. He won the Global Nagpur award for ‘Culture and Art’. He repeated the feat by being awarded ‘Global Indian’ award in this same category by global society for Art and Culture.
One just wishes that at 21, things have not come too early and too fast for this young one. But we are sure he has the Art of re inventing himself. Over and again.