Meet Kiran Rao-Aamir Khan’s Phool

‘I watched Sui Dhaaga, Balika Badhu and Bhojpuri women’s videos to see how the women are there because this is the story of 2001 and I am born in 2007.’

Photograph: Kind courtesy Nitanshi Goel/Instagram

“I had three scenes for the audition of Laapataa Ladies,”Nitanshi Goel says, discussing her character Phool in the film.

“I didn’t even know that it was Aamir (Khan) sir’s film or that it was directed by Kiran (Rao) ma’am. I had to read just those three pages, and those three scenes moved me so much that I wanted to be a part of this project in any way.”

She shares how she prepared for her role: “I watched Sui Dhaaga, Balika Badhu and Bhojpuri women’s videos to see how the women are there because this is the story of 2001 and I am born in 2007. I had not seen that era and now I had to live this era in the audition itself.

“I felt by looking at my body language, people should feel that I am telling the story of those women. So I practised their body language and how to wear a veil. I didn’t have a sari, so I made a ready-made sari with a lehenga dupatta. Phool doesn’t say much in the film but you can tell from her eyes what she wants to say.

“How she sits, how she speaks, how she looks at a person. I practised all those things. After that, I auditioned. I got a call in the evening that Kiran ma’am liked the audition and Aamir sir wanted to meet up.

“I started crying, mom started crying. It was such a big thing for all of us! Such a good script, such a lovely character and Aamir sir’s film. The dream came true. It was like my world was about to turn.

“I met Aamir sir. He is so humble and teaches so much. Kiran ma’am is such a dedicated director.”

IMAGE: Sparsh Shrivastava and Nitanshi Goel in Laapataa Ladies.

“The script of Laapataa Ladies attracted me,” Nitanshi’s co-actor Sparsh Shrivastava says.

“But if I tell you from the beginning, I had only read the four pages for the audition, which I had to prepare and send. So the four pages that were written triggered me. If the four pages are so good, how good will the whole script be? And then, the kind of message this film is giving, that is also very big, that girls should be encouraged and not just confined to homes or forced into early marriage,” he adds.

“There was another very good message that Deepak, my character, says in this film: That a man can express his feelings. Like we often suppress our feelings. So, all this collectively supported me a lot. Also, Kiran Rao is directing, so why not be part of such a project?” 

As an actor, it was a great learning experience for him, and working with Kiran Rao helped him to improvise and become a “better actor.”

“I became a better actor under her direction,” he says.

“A lot of undiscovered emotions came out. Also, by working with them, I have become a better person, more than just an actor. So, this has been a huge benefit for me.”

IMAGE: Kiran Rao, Nitanshi Goel, Pratibha Ranta, Sparsh Shrivastava and Aamir Khan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Nitanshi Goel/Instagram

Laapataa Ladies is a story set in 2001 in rural India about two young brides, who get switched during a train journey and what happens when Kishan, a police officer, takes it upon himself to probe the missing case.

The film received a standing ovation during its screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Laapataa Ladies will hit theatres on March 1.