But the truth is Ayesha, a Delhiite with no experience in acting, got the prized part by default. Not only that, when Anurag got to know Ayesha played the guitar and sang, he made the character Kiran sing and play the guitar.
"That's true. The character plays the guitar and sings because I do," laughs Ayesha. "I go everywhere with my guitar. So when Anurag heard me he said, 'What's that song you keep singing and playing?' I said it's 'I'm a Big Big Girl'. Anurag immediately incorporated the song and guitar into the character."
Initially about six years ago when Anurag first started making Gulaal, Antara Mali was supposed to do the role. She however lost interest in Gulaal and according to Anurag "got busy with Ramu".
Konkona Sen Sharma was approached for the layered part of an innocent scheming small-timer who's part Lolita, part-Lady Macbeth. But then Konkona showed no interest and then when she did, it was too late.
Ayesha virtually landed the role by default after all the other actresses showed a marked reluctance to work with him. Anurag just signed his assistant in a fit of anger.
Speaking from Delhi where she has returned after two years in Canada, Ayesha says, "That's true. I got the role totally by default. I was assisting Anurag. When he asked me to do the role I was zapped. But I was game for it. I had no idea how complex the character was. I went blindly by Anurag's interpretation."
The biggest problem was not playing the nuanced character but looking up to her leading man. "My leading man Raj Singh Choudhary is so tall, I got a sprain in my neck gazing into his eyes."
Ayesha's appetite for acting has been whetted by Gulaal. "Anurag made me realize I could act. After Gulaal I've done an English language film called The Pool with Nana Patekar directed by Chris Smith."
Ayesha describes The Pool as a film about slum kids, a Slumdog Millionaire without the drama. "It's already been released and has been well received abroad. I'm now looking at other roles. I also write and sing. So I think I'm quite a gypsy at heart."
Buy Movie Tickets
Receive FREE Movie News & Gupshup
In Your Inbox
In Your Inbox