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Sonal Chauhan, debutant lead of Jannat may have been a Miss India contestant in real life but the film's director Kunal Deshmukh didn't care less. Reason? Rather than a beautiful girl who could also act, he wanted someone who could act with the bonus coming from the fact that she also looked beautiful. This is what he told Sonal at the very beginning of her assignment and results were for everyone to be seen as Sonal has supposedly come up with a very good performance.
Agrees Kunal, "I told Sonal point blank that I didn't care about her beauty. Her job was to act and she had to know that audience would fall in love with her face when she would first appear on screen but after 10 seconds it would only be her acting which would do all the talking."
How did the young girl react to such a harsh messaging in her very first film?
"In fact she took it all quite positively. She is a very clever girl. The moment she understood what was expected out of her, she focused herself completely for Jannat. And mind you, in the film she is not there for a 'gaana-bajaana' routine. There is much more to her character which is that of a dancer in a club", reveals Kunal.
So what is her contribution to the film? How did she go about making sure that she justifies her presence in the project?
"Cliched as it may sound but the fact remains that she has put in a lot for her role in the film", adds Kunal, "In spite of the fact that she had to work for 15-16 hours a day, she didn't complain. We pushed her and she came up trumps every time."
One hears Kunal was a little reluctant though about roping in a fresher for the role. Is that true?
Kunal gets candid here, "That's right. This is a very important role in the film with shades of grey. I felt someone with the right kind of maturity and cinematic experience should be roped in for this role. Once Esha Deol was no more a part of the project, we played a gamble of having Sonal in the film."
"Though we are convinced that it was a right choice, audience would be telling us on 16th June whether we have been right in our assessment," concludes Kunal.