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Movie interview: Meghna Kothary-Bride and Prejudice

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“I was thrilled”

Meghna describes her exciting experience of how she got in to the venture that has the likes of Aishwarya Rai and Namratha Shirodkar.

How did you get the role?

The person who was doing the casting called me up to tell me that Gurinder Chadda was to come to Mumbai. I had earlier told him that I wanted to meet her. I had loved her film and was keen to work with her.

Guru the casting man told me there was this character Lucky –a brat, which I should go for.  I went to meet her at JW Marriott and my family was with me. I went up while the others sat in the lobby. I had taken some pictures of mine. She asked me what I had done earlier. I showed her a music video of mine, which Anubhav Sinha’s wife Ratna had directed. I was quite relaxed with Gurinder because I knew this was not a commercial kind of audition.

I had loved ‘Bend it like Beckham’-I thought it had no bias of any kind the Indian culture was shown in a very nice spirit, there was nothing derogatory in it like they show in other films. I had really loved that film and had seen it twice. She asked me which film of mine did I consider the best and I replied that Hari Bhari [Shyam Benegal’s] was the most enjoyable experience and she saw my photographs with and without make up.

She felt that I looked older with make up and much younger otherwise. She singled one out and said ‘this is my Maya’. I didn’t know who that was, But after that she made me read Lucky’s character which I had initially gone to audition for. Then she got me to read Maya’s character. She was pleased with my audition and said ‘nice nice’ we’ll let you know.”  Then she saw mum and said at once “you are an actress you were in Darmiyan”. Mum is not an actress but she was in Darmiyan in a tiny role and Gurinder Chadda remembered that. Which was nice.

Anyway I was waiting for a month to hear from them. I knew I had been short-listed but that’s all. I knew she had met a number of the top actresses.  When she returned to India I was in Delhi. I was called back for a reading of the part.  I had in her absence read Pride and Prejudice, which I hadn’t earlier though, I had seen the TV serial Trishna, which was based on it and I had enjoyed that very much.

When I went to meet her for the reading there was a BBC crew who was making a film on her and my whole audition was put on film.  She explained the character to me and read the other dialogues while I read my part. Then she asked me to sing a song, she already knew that I sang and she said that this character has to sing and would I like to do my own music.

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I sang a bhajan she liked it very much and she said we could think of you doing the music. As I sang she looked at the producer Deepak Nayyar questioningly as if to ask if they approved. Then she said ‘okay you’re on’. I was thrilled and I said is this certain can I tell my parents and she said yes.

The others are Namrata Shirodkar, Aishwarya Rai, Priya Rai and myself. The book has five sisters but   in the film we have four. Farhan and Zoya Akhtar are writing the lyrics and Anu Malik is doing the music. We start shooting in July.   We’re to shoot in Amritsar and London.

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