Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal starred a host of brilliant actors like Kay Kay Menon, Piyush Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal and newcomers Raj Singh Chaudhary and Abhimanyu Singh. It also starred a brilliant Ayesha Mohan in her first Hindi film. Not much is known about this actress, who plays an ambitious woman, ready to go to any lengths to get what she wants in the film.
Ayesha tells Patcy N how she got into the movies and more.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Delhi. I studied philosophy in Miranda House College [from which actresses like Mallika Sherawat, Minnisha Lamba and Nandita Das graduated]. I often skipped college to attend film festivals at the India Habitat Centre. Thereafter, I went to Canada to study screen writing and film-directing. To pay my bills there, I worked as a part-time waitress. Now, I am back in India.
How did you get into the movies?
As a film enthusiast, I acted in a couple of amateur short films. But I never took acting seriously. I've always wanted to be a director. I saw Paanch, and later met Anurag Kashyap at a workshop. He told me to 'get two years of experience and then you can join me.' That's what I did.
I started assisting Anurag. One day, I had to fill in for Raj Singh Chaudhary. Usually, my job as an assistant director was to shoot the auditions. But that day, I was giving cues while Anurag shot the auditions. After the auditions, Anurag asked me to audition the next day. I was skeptical about it but gave it a try. And it clicked. I was told the same day that I'd been chosen for the role.
I was the female lead in a film called The Pool with Nana Patekar, directed by Chris Smith. It won at the Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
What did you think of Gulaal?
I feel Gulaal is a dark yet beautiful comment on the regionalism that exists in India. Violence only begets more violence. The film is an honest depiction of the level to which the masses are manipulated by a selected few. The story is about a young law student, an innocent guy who gets involved in politics. The film depicts human nature in various shades of grey.
My character, Kiran, is a college student, who is hardened by life, and has many layers to her personality.
How was it working with Anurag?
I have deep respect for Anurag. His techniques of filmmaking are quite profound. Also, he is honest and fearless.
Anurag is really good with actors and he just lets them be, while encouraging and guiding them as and when they need. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have had the courage to act.
I was stuck several times. I was taken aback by the depth of my role while I was performing in front of the camera. There were numerous times when Anurag guided me.
Any funny moments while shooting?
During the shoot, one of my guitar strings broke. Anurag had an interesting way to present it to me.
During a scene, my brother Karan (Aditya Srivastava) tells me that, 'tumhare guitar ki string toot gayi naa' and gives me the string. It was so hard not to laugh, as that was not the part of the script. But I had to stay in character, as Anurag had not said 'cut'.