Nikhil Advani has not had a hit since his debut “Kal Ho Naa Ho”six years ago. His “Chandni Chowk To China” this year did exceptionally badly, but the man has not lost his sense of humour.

While selecting five movies for UTV’s ‘50 Movies To See Before You Die’, the director picks out “The Fifth Element” (English, 1997), “Sonatine” (Japanese, 1993), “Invisible Waves”(Thai/English/Japanese/Korean, 2006), “Drifting Clouds”(Finnish, 1996) and “Twice Upon A Time” (French, 2006). Ask him why the predominance of dark themes for a person who is best known for rom-coms and comedies, and he quips: “I am supposed to be in a dark mood at this time, right?”

Nikhil says his preference for filmmakers such as Takeshi Kitano (Sonatine) and Aki Kaurismaki (Drifting Clouds) arises from their love for brevity. “They believe in no-frills cinema. They also treat death with irreverence, which I absolutely admire. In “Kal Ho Na Ho”, I was criticised for treating death casually. But my idea was that it is incidental. We don’t need to do too much around it,” he explains.

Nikhil is currently shooting for “Patiala House”with Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma. “The film has shades of fun, but it is essentially a dramatic piece between a father and son. It also deals with history as it traces the immigration movement and the Indian community of Southhall in London,” he says.

Nikhil is hoping that his animation film “Delhi Safari”, (about a bunch of animals who set out on a mission to meet politicians in Delhi), in the making for the last three years, will get released next year. His other ambitious project “Chandbhai”with Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan has been shelved. “I am in no mood to work on ‘Chandbhai’presently. ‘Patiala House’is keeping me quite busy,” he says.

Catch Nikhil Advani’s choice on ‘50 Movies To See Before You Die’ every Thursday at 8.30 p.m.