Vidhu Vinod Chopra is peeved over speculation that he approached Vidya Balan for a special appearance in Ferrari Ki Sawaari (FKS) to add star power to his movie. “I’ve done three films — Parineeta (2005), Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) and Eklavya (2007) — with Vidya when she was still a newcomer, but we haven’t worked since. I approached her for another film last December, before Kahaani (2012) or even The Dirty Picture (2011) released,” he says.
Is it for Munnabhai Ki Aatma Katha or Peekay with Aamir Khan? Vinod isn’t telling: “Very few people in the film industry like me, and I like to hold on to those who do. Vidya is one of them. It’s a bonus that she’s a wonderful actor.”
He’s pretty categorical that he didn’t rope her in for a ‘lavani’ song in FKS because she is a star. “In fact, it’s not an item number as is being said. It is an authentic song and was always a part of the script. We had got dancers from Kolhapur for it and while they were rehearsing, Raju (writer-director Rajesh Mapuskar) told me that Vidya wanted to do a ‘lavani’. I messaged her and she admitted she’d been waiting for it. Before I knew it, she was rehearsing with the dancers and after a fortnight’s practice, was ready. It was a flawless performance and not at all filmi.”
He points out that after 3 Idiots (2009), he could have had the pick of stars and did have Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan in mind for FKS. But Sharman Joshi had also auditioned for the lead, and when in Los Angeles, Vinod got a call informing him that Sharman was on his way. “I was certain that I wouldn’t go with him but I thought I should at least see his screen test before he came. It blew me over! He was my Rusy (Rustam). I told Raju we had to cast him even though I knew as a producer that it was a risk,” he says.
Today, he’s happy he took the gamble. When his daughter, Zooni, saw the film, she told him, “I’m glad you cast this man.” Vinod understands what she meant, saying, “Sharman lives the role. When he cries your heart goes out to him, when he smiles, you celebrate with him.”