Zoya Akhtar didn’t give the female cast of her forthcoming release, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) even a thought when she and co-writer Reema Kagti were scripting it. “I didn’t write the film with Katrina in mind. I actually wanted to cast someone new for that character,” says Zoya, who needed a half-Caucasian-half-Indian face for the part.
Admitting that ZNMD does seem more like a ‘guy’ film, the director spent a lot of time auditioning new faces in India and abroad, but didn’t find any actor worth the part. “I just couldn’t find any good actors. And around the same time, I happened to meet Katrina at a party. I really liked her vibe and felt she would fit the role,” adds Zoya.The other leading lady in the film, Kalki Koechlin, too came along coincidentally. Zoya was aware of Kalki’s body of work and had liked her in Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D (2009), but it was her yet-to-be released film that swept the director off her feet. "I happened to watch That Girl In The Yellow Boots because Anurag is a friend, and Kalki was just amazing in that. Then on, I couldn’t see anyone else play that part," adds the filmmaker, who last directed Luck By Chance (2009), also starring brother Farhan Akhtar, who, alongside Hrithik Roshan and Abhay Deol, plays a pivotal role in ZNMD.
Having been a casting director for many films including Farhan’s Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Zoya understands the importance of getting the right face for the right part. "The three boys fit the roles perfectly," she adds. Recalling her many road trips that inspired the film’s story, Zoya says, "Luck By Chance was such an interior film. So when I finished that, I wanted to go out and shoot big wide frames and do something, visually and thematically different. And within three months, Reema and I had the script."