Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal has got rave reviews and Ayesha Mohan, the hitherto unknown leading lady of the film, has also come in for much praise. The newcomer, who was actually the director's assistant, is thrilled as she landed the role "by default".
"That's true. I got the role totally by default. I was assisting Anurag. When he asked me to do the role I was zapped. But I was game for it. I had no idea how complex the character was. I went blindly by Anurag's interpretation," Ayesha told IANS.
When Kashyap first started making Gulaal about six years ago, Antara Mali was supposed to do the role. But she apparently lost interest in the movie.
Konkona Sen Sharma was then approached for the layered part of a scheming small-timer who's part Lolita, part-Lady Macbeth. But then Konkona too showed no interest and Kashyap is said to have signed on his assistant in an impulse.
Not only was Ayesha roped in without any acting experience, the song she always sings also found place in Gulaal.
"That's also true. The character plays the guitar and sings because I do," laughed Ayesha.
"I go everywhere with my guitar. So when Anurag heard me he said, 'What's that song you keep singing and playing?" I said it's I'm a Big Big Girl. Anurag immediately incorporated the song and guitar into the character."
More than essaying the nuanced character of Kiran, looking up at the lead actor was a problem for Ayesha.
"My leading man Raj Singh Choudhary is so tall I got a sprain in my neck gazing into his eyes," she said.
Ayesha says her appetite for acting has been whetted by Gulaal, which also starred Kay Kay Menon.
"Anurag made me realise I could act. After Gulaal I've done an English language film called The Pool directed by Chris Smith with Nana Patekar," the actress said.
Ayesha describes The Pool as a film about slum children - a Slumdog Millionaire without the drama.
"It's already been released and has been well received abroad. I'm now looking at other roles. I also write and sing. So I think I'm quite a gypsy at heart," Ayesha said.