Farhan Akhtar, who teamed up with Shabana Azmi for the first time in his AIDS film Positive, said it was not easy for him to offer her the role.
"I had to be very careful about what I approached her with. I knew if I went to her with something she didn't approve of, she'd tell me to buzz off, regardless of our relationship. I didn't want her to be in that position where she might have to say no," Farhan told IANS.
Farhan, whose father Javed Akhtar is married to Shabana, said it was no different on the sets working with Shabana and the other members of the cast.
"In fact, we got a little extra professional. She told me to relax. And she does have a calming effect on not just the director but also all the other actors. She helped Arjun become comfortable. She worked with the mood and line of his scenes."
Boman Irani plays Shabana's spouse in the film. Earlier, they were seen together as a couple in Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd, which Farhan co-produced with Ritesh Sidhwani.
"I've been comfortable working with him in Lakshya and Don - The Chase Begins Again. He has terrific understanding of story and screenplay. He'd just drop in at the office any time to discuss scenes."
After making the Positive for Mira Nair for the Bill Gates Foundation, Farhan has done an 'ad film' for a German watch company.
<b1>"It isn't my first ad," Farhan said. "During Dil Chahta Hai I had shot an ad for a drink called Slice. I also worked as an assistant in an ad agency for three years."
Speaking on his movie on AIDS, Farhan said: "It was tough fitting my story into such a short duration. And my film is 16 1/2 minutes when the brief was for 12 minutes. My consolation is that all the films in the series have crossed 12 minutes."
Farhan recalls the moment.
"Mira called me to say she'd like me to do one of her AIDS film. I immediately said yes. But the thing was, by the time Mira asked me to contribute, her other AIDS films with Vishal Bharadwaj, Santosh Sivan and herself were already into production. So certain aspects of the AIDS issue was already being dealt with. I had to quickly think of something new. I chose to do a film on how important it is for the family to support an HIV positive."
Farhan's leading man in the AIDS film is a newcomer called Arjun Mathur.
"He's a friend who has done another short film and a lot of advertisement work."
Farhan likes Vishal Bhardawaj's Blood Brothers in the AIDS film series.
"I like the visual style of Vishal Bharadwaj's film very much. And Santosh Sivan's 'Sankalp' is very sweet. The kind of support Santosh got from the biggest stars in the south is really commendable."
Farhan's sister Zoya has written Mira Nair's film in the series.
"Zoya's story Migration says AIDS can strike anyone, regardless of social strata. It feels good to be a part of a bouquet of films that deals with such a serious issue. And that too with such accomplished directors as my colleagues."