She assisted Mira Nair in The Namesake and Ang Lee in The Life Of Pi. And now, Nitya Mehra is all set to make her directorial debut with Baar Baar Dekho.
And no, her film is not about time travel.
"I have been getting that response ever since the trailer came out," Nitya says with a laugh. "But no, Baar Baar Dekho is not about time travel, not in the sense that we mean it to be when some weird scientist puts the characters into a machine that takes them back in time.
"My film is about regret and making up for lost time. There is that sense of déjà vu that strikes our lives when we feel we have been through a situation, and what if we could change it?"
So why does Jai (Sidharth Malhotra) age so fast?
"You will have to wait for the film to come out," Nitya says mysteriously. "I am glad the trailer has whetted people's curiosity. When I decided to turn director, I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into the trap of doing the usual boy meets girl story. I wanted to do a love story that would move the audience and make them think."
Talking about casting, she reveals, "I wanted to get the casting of my male protagonist in place first. I chose Sidharth Malhotra because of the warmth and mystery in his eyes. I had seen him in Hasee Toh Phasee. There is a thehrao (stability) in his personality and an earnest warmth.
"About the aging, I was never bothered whether he would look 40 or 45 or 50. I knew the makeup guys would take care of that. I needed someone who would convey a certain warmth."
"With Katrina also, the good looks were an asset. I had only seen her in two films Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Raajneeti. I liked her performance in both. There is a quality of mystery about her. No one really knows the real Katrina. I wanted to tap that mystery," she says.
When asked if there is more of Nitya in Sidharth or Katrina, the young filmmaker says, "I think there is a bit of me in all my characters in Baar Baar Dekho, including Ram Kapoor. The Punjabi side of my personality is manifested in him."
Recalling her early days in Delhi, Nitya says, "My life was not anything that could be considered even the least Bollywood. But I always wanted to direct films, so I headed to Mumbai. Unfortunately, a family crisis beckoned me back home in Delhi. And there I remained for the next few years. Luckily for me, a lot of international films are shot in Delhi, so I got a chance to work with the likes of Mira Nair and Ang Lee."