Nikhil Advani is a noted Indian Director in the Bollywood Industry. Born to a Pharmaceutical Businessman Father and an Advertising Professional Mother in Mumbai, he pursued his school education in Green Lawns High School, Breach Candy and has a Masters Degree in Chemistry from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. He was a year senior to Karan Johar in college. He hasn't pursued any formal degree in Film Studies. While on the verge of moving to the US to study synthetic drugs and dyes in the University of Colorado, Boulder, he got disillusioned with the education system. It was then he thought of trying his luck in films. He took up watching 3-4 films a day in his summer holidays. He approached Govind Nihilani, a friend of his mother's, for whom he had done a few ad films. Nihilani introduced Advani to the Mirza brothers (Saeed Mirza and Aziz Mirza).
Advani considers Saeed Mirza, Aziz Mirza, Kundan Shah, Sudhir Mishra and Renu Saluja as his mentors. When he joined the Mirza Brothers, Sudhir Mishra, Manjul Sinha and Kundan Shah, Advani was the only assistant to work under 5 directors for Naya Nukkad in 1994, which also happens to be his first on-the-sets experience. He also assisted Sudhir Mishra in the film Is Raat Ki Subah Nahi (IRKSN), an original brain-child of Mishra's brother Sudhanshu Mishra, which he overtook after the latter's death in January 1995. Advani attributes all his learning to the work he did for this film, including its post-production, where he got an opportunity to learn editing from Renu Saluja, who is the best in her field, in his opinion.
After IRKSN, he joined Karan Johar for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. While he was out of work after the IRKSN, he met Johar at a function, where IRKSN was nominated for Best Screenplay. Johar narrated him the screenplay of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH) and also offered him to assist him in the film, which he accepted. It was a total shift for him from parallel to commercial films, making it a little difficult. He also did a cameo for the same, where he says, "Suparna mujhe phone mat karna, mujhe koi aur mil gayi hai" along with Farah Khan in The Neelam Show in the film. Suparna is his wife's name, to whom he was recently married before the shoot of KKHH. The cameo of his was a mischievous message to her.
During the shooting of KKHH, Advani discovered his ability to scout for good locations. He happened to scout locations like that of the Summer Camp and the College in KKHH. Meanwhile, Aditya Chopra joined them, during which he was writing a draft for Mohobbatien. After KKHH was done, Chopra and Advani allied together to make Mohabbatein, while working on which Karan Johar narrated him the idea of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum (K3G). With a release of films like Lagaan, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and Dil Chahta Hai, a little before that of K3G, this film set a benchmark for the "Karan Johar" kind of films.
After K3G, Advani wished to make a thriller film based on Terrorism in Kashmir, in which he meant to take a stand without caring much about who would agree with it and otherwise. But Yash Johar suggested him not to take such a huge risk with his first film and that is where Karan Johar came to him with Kal Ho Na Ho. Apparently, Karan Johar didn't want to do it himself as he wanted it to be "radically different". Advani asked him if he could do it, but at the same time suggested that he would do it totally his way and treat it completely differently The movie turned out to be a huge success, being a big budget film, even though it was his first film as a director. He was nominated for the Filmfare Best Director Award.
His next venture was Salam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love, another movie with a big star cast. He had approached Dharma Productions for the same, but ended up being by Mukesh Talreja, Chetan Motiwalla and Sunil Manchanda. His next Chandni Chowk to China, released in January 2009, turned out to be a flop after which he went into making Patiala House, released earlier in 2011 and also India's first stereoscopic 3D Animation film Delhi Safari, released in September 2011.