Ever since Dhobi Ghat was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Prateik has been garnering a lot of accolades and attention for his performance. One question that invariably crops up is why debutant director Kiran Rao didn’t pick producer and husband Aamir Khan’s nephew Imran to play the character of Munna.
Rao has her reply ready. She says that she was initially looking to cast unknown actors to portray real people. “I went to dhobi ghats at Mahalaxmi and Banganga, apart from localities like Nagpada and Dongri, because I was looking for people who live and have been brought up on the streets. Munna is the backbone of the story, one who connects everyone in the movie, and so I needed someone who could carry that weight,” she explains, adding that she wasn’t getting that “street vibe” in the initial tests.Interestingly, it was at the premiere of Imran’s launch, Jaane Tu.. Ya Jaane Naa, that the Dhobi Ghat director thought of auditioning Prateik. "He had cut his hair short, he was looking very fresh and young having shaved his beard," she recalls, adding that she got the desired result in the very first screen test. She adds, "Prateik had that innocence, candor, and relaxed body language that I needed for Munna. I knew the rest could be worked upon."
Rao reveals that’s when actor-filmmaker husband stepped in. “Aamir did extensive workshops with Prateik, helping him build the personality and the body language to play Munna,” she says, adding that the young actor’s performance was “spot on”. Besides being a natural actor, the director claims, “Prateik has a screen presence and a chemistry with the camera that is very rare to find”.
Well, much like her perfectionist husband, Rao will not sign on Aamir’s nephew until he fits the role just as perfectly.