Buying a "fixer upper", particularly one that is not really expected to be of high quality once restored, wouldn't be my recommendation as a first foray into sitar. If you are really experienced in luthiery and have lots of the tools and experience (particularly with acoustic instruments) it might be a worthwhile risk if you were keen on the challenge.
But if you're mostly interested in it as a diversion, a fun exotic instrument to tinker with, most likely all this thing is going to give you is a headache. Buying, and then properly fitting and setting up, a sitar main bridge is quite an experience I should imagine. For guitarists just after "that sound", and hey, as a fan of Steve Howe and Steely Dan I love the "electric sitar" sound as much as anyone, the Danelectro/Jerry Jones model sitar-guitars are a good option, and the Line6 Variax has a decent sitar sound as well for use as a colour instrument. If you want to get into the actual acoustic make-your-legs-feel-like-they-are-falling-off-and-your-fingers-nearly-bleed sitar, hold out for an instrument of better quality. The sitar requires a lot put into it in terms of learning, new technique, etc., and so making the investment of time, pain and effort will pay off better if you have a proper instrument.
Just my two cents though! Speaking of, if you can talk him down to two cents, go for it!