Manjari Phadnis, who played the second lead opposite debutant Imran in the hit flick Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Naa, said she was not producer Aamir Khan's choice as he had his reservations in casting her for the role.
"Aamir did not want to cast me. I was the only one among the entire cast who was not approved by Aamir. But director Abbas Tyrewala was adamant to cast me," Manjari told IANS.
"Almost 400 girls were auditioned for the role of Meghna and Abbas thought I fitted it the best. Finally Aamir agreed," said the 24-year-old-actress who debuted with Rok Sako To Rok Lo in 2004.
While Jaane Tu... launched Aamir's nephew Imran as an actor, it is also Abbas' first outing as a director. And Manjari says that Aamir didn't interfere much as he was busy with his directorial debut.
"Aamir left everything to Abbas as he was busy shooting for Taare Zameen Par during that time. He used to come to the sets for a while and I did not have any long interaction with him during the entire shooting schedule."
But when Aamir saw the final product, he was impressed by Manjari's work.
"I was overwhelmed when he appreciated my work after seeing the film. It was a great achievement to get a compliment from a person like Aamir, who is one of the biggest superstars of the country."
Manjari said it was a life time opportunity for a newcomer like her to work with Aamir Khan productions.
"People like me, who do not come from a film background, have to struggle a lot for a good banner and a right film. I really thank Aamir for giving me the opportunity."
Manjari's career slumped after her debut film Rok Sako To Rok Lo bombed at the box office. In last four years, she did a few films in the south and one Hindi movie titled Mumbai Salsa.
"Though my films did not do well, the roles excited me. I was patient and did not accept just anything that came my way."
Asked why she wasn't seen in any of the pre-release pormotions, she said: "I was told from the first day that I will be not be there in the promotion and I accepted it. I am happy people saw me as a surprise package."
But isn't that the normal practiced for big stars? "Yes, I know but I had to accept it."
She admits promotion would have worked better for her career, saying: "Yes, definitely. I would have surely liked if they would have promoted me a bit. But, people have started recognising me after Jaane Tu..."
Manjari is getting a lot of offers after Jaane Tu...
"I have not finalised any of them. I am doing a couple of films in the south and going through the scripts that came my way. I will only sign a film when the story excites me and I have a good role to play."
Manjari's next release will be a comedy film "I am 24" which has Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey and Neha Dhupia among others.