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An Audition Date

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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An Audition Date • Who Wants to be Dawood? • Yet Another ‘Betrayal’

Two-time National Award-winning actress Tabu hasn’t done a significant film since 2007’s Cheeni Kum, but that will change come November when she’s on screen in Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Though she only has a small part in this adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel, Tabu has said Lee was on the list of filmmakers she badly wanted to work with.

When Tabu received a call from the film’s casting director, she was informed that Lee was hoping she would see him for a part in the film, and that he hadn’t shortlisted any other actress but her. Their first meeting, according to the actress, was a quiet one where neither spoke much, and he said almost nothing about the film. It was only during their second meeting, over a meal, that Lee offered her the part of Pi’s mother.

Interestingly, Tabu’s co-star in the film is Irrfan Khan, whose wife she had played in Mira Nair’s The Namesake, the very film Lee saw before casting her. This time, she isn’t cast opposite Irrfan, but as his mother—although they have no scenes together. While Tabu appears in scenes as the mother of the younger Pi, played by newcomer Suraj Sharma, Irrfan shows up as the older Pi who is narrating the story of his unbelievable sea journey in flashback.

Sources close to the actress reveal that while she’s thrilled to be in the film and grateful for the opportunity to have worked with her favourite filmmaker, Tabu is reportedly apprehensive about promoting Life of Pi too prominently, for fear of giving the false impression that she has a starring role in it. Apparently she has no interest in making a laughing stock of herself like Anil Kapoor did after his embarrassing cameo in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Who Wants to be Dawood?

When Chandni Chowk To China director Nikhil Advani handed over the script of his new film, D-Day, to Shruti Haasan, he hadn’t expected her to circulate it at home. Advani, who approached the actress to star as a Pakistani prostitute, was reportedly surprised to receive a call from her father Kamal Haasan; Shruti would be doing the film, but her dad wanted a part too. Not just any part, but the central role of feared underworld don Dawood.

The film, a fictional political thriller about the capture of India’s most wanted criminal, has Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Pakistani actress Humaima Malik and Shruti Haasan in key roles. But the part of Dawood was apparently written for Advani’s favourite actor Rishi Kapoor, who has already begun filming for it. The 60-year-old star worked hard with make-up and prosthetics experts to create a look that eerily resembles the real Dawood.

Kapoor, who has worked with Advani previously in Patiala House, was allegedly thrilled that his Saagar co-star had coveted (and lost) the juicy part. This is Kapoor’s second bad-guy role following the sleazy pimp he played in the Agneepath remake.

Yet Another ‘Betrayal’

Friendships are fickle in the film business, and one relatively new director learnt this the hard way recently. After striking up a comfortable rapport with a leading actress who starred in a film he was the first assistant director on a few years ago, the director managed to rope her in to star in his directorial debut. The romantic comedy, which starred a promising young male star opposite the actress, was a reasonable success, and the director quickly began writing his next project, which the actress once again agreed to be part of.

Despite waiting for her to finish previous shooting commitments, the director allegedly received a rude shock recently when the actress said she couldn’t do his film. He’d already begun filming portions of the new film with his two male leads, and was expecting to shoot with the actress as soon as she was back from an outdoor schedule.

The story goes that the actress has chosen another film, opposite an A-list male star, over this one to be directed by her friend, which features two younger, upcoming actors. Although his producers quickly found him a replacement in another successful actress, the director is said to be hurting from what he has described as a “shocking betrayal”.