National award winning director and production designer Omung Kumar says he was questioned by many for his choice of casting Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Sarabjit Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur in his upcoming biopic Sarbjit.
However, Omung was happy, confident and convinced with his selection. “Everybody told me I was mad to cast Aishwarya. But then, they said similar things when I cast Priyanka Chopra for Mary Kom; that she won’t fit the role, she doesn’t look North Eastern, and so on.”
“But I’d decided that for Dalbir’s part, I wanted someone who’s mature enough, who could play a 22-year-old and 60-year-old as well, someone who commands and demands respect when she speaks. Aishwarya is a director’s actress, she is a fantastic. We can see her in any role possible, but yes, they talk about her beauty more,” says Omung.
He continues, “Also, Aishwarya agreed to do the film immediately because she knew that this is a role of a lifetime. One cannot say no to this role because you owe it to society.”
Meanwhile, Randeep Hooda, stunned everyone with his physical transformation to play Sarabjit (the Indian national who was famously detained in Pakistan for 23 years) and went on a rigorous diet while losing a whopping 18 kgs in a period of just 28 days.
He says that he was initially worried about playing the part. “Omung has been saying that I said yes to the role in 15 minutes, but the fact is that I was scared. I was apprehensive. I had liked the script but it was hard to commit, and then, I take my commitment very seriously. Who in the right mind would go through all that?”
“Finally I decided to have a conversation with myself, not with the director, and agreed to step into the role,” says Randeep, who had transformed into the skeleton of a starving man.
Further, to get into the skin of the character, Randeep would carry his work home religiously. Says Omung, “At home he started living in a dark, dingy corner with absolutely no light, all through day and night. I had demarcated an area of 6 feet by 4 feet and he would live, walk only in that portion. He had also asked for chains which were tied around his hands and legs. More than losing weight, it was Sarabjit’s psyche he wanted to get into. He had to actually live that person for several months.”
Sarbjit releases on 20 May.