Not many actors get to make their Bollywood debut opposite Aamir Khan. Kriti Malhotra did. Though she was very hesitant about taking on Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat, she doesn’t have an ounce of regret.
Says Malhotra, “A friend called and asked me to audition, and my first reaction was ‘are you mad?’” Out of curiosity she landed up for the screen test and auditioned alone with the camera in a room. “When I was picked, Kiran didn’t want me to do any rehearsals. She wanted me just like this.”
At the time, she didn’t know she would land herself a debut opposite Khan. “I was so freaked out when I found out that Aamir was in the film. I suddenly realised that everyone was going to watch it,” says the young actor. But this is not her first association with the film industry. She has worked as an assistant costume designer on Sarkar Raj, Delhi 6 and Action Replayy.
The character of Yasmin is of a 22-year-old Muslim girl from a small town in UP. During the course of the film, she develops a relationship with Arun (Khan’s character). “I wouldn’t say I play his love interest, but he being a reclusive artist builds a connect of sorts because he is intrigued by her.”
For the actor, who was too shy to even audition in front of a room full of people, working with the perfectionist Khan was not easy. “It was nerve-wracking to meet Aamir and work with him. I thought, ‘am I actually expected to sit in front of Aamir Khan and act?’” she says, adding, “He is very passionate about his work and gets really involved. I had built him up so much, but when I met him I realised he’s absolutely normal.”
But in the experience, she has Kiran to thank the most. “Working with her was a fabulous experience. She was sure of me and it made me comfortable that all I had to do was look at her and she’d hold my hand through the film.” Now that the Bollywood bug has bitten her, does she still have apprehensions about acting? “I want to wait to see the reactions I get from this film. And yes, I do hope to do more. I have grown up on Bollywood so I have to eventually do a typical Hindi film!”