She is just three years older, but first-time actress Nikhila Trikha is the chosen one to play Ranbir Kapoor's mother in the high-voltage political drama Raajneeti.
"I was very clear that the facial resemblance has to be very strong. I wanted Ranbir, Arjun Rampal to look like brothers, which they do, and I wanted the actress playing Ranbir's mother to look like him," said Prakash Jha, the film's director.
Ranbir, 27, is extremely particular about who plays his mom on screen. In Raajneeti, the choice was narrowed down even further since Jha wanted the actress playing Ranbir's mother to resemble him physically.
After considering several unusual actresses for the part of his mother including Raveena Tandon, who thought she wasn't old enough to play Ranbir's mother, and Mrinal Kulkarni, Jha zeroed in on 30-year-old Nikhila.
Ranbir apparently gave his nod the minute he saw the unknown actress who has to play a very young woman required to take over a political dynasty and later, her US-based son Ranbir's mother in this dynastic saga.
Known to work with seasoned and saleable actresses, how did Jha offer such a complex role to an inexperienced actress?
"When Nikhila auditioned for the part, I instinctively knew she was right for the part although she has had no acting experience. In fact, Ranbir who's younger than her was far more experienced. But he never let her feel like a newcomer," said Jha.
Releasing Friday, the film also stars Ajay Devgn, Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar, Katrina Kaif and Manoj Bajpai.