New Delhi, After Brazilian Giselle Monteiro and Mexican Barbara Mori, it’s Egyptian Aida Elkashef’s turn to make her debut in an Indian movie as an actress. Director Anand Gandhi says initially he didn’t plan to cast her in “Theseus’ Ship”.
“I met Aida at the Berlin Film Festival where she had come to showcase one of her movies,” Gandhi told IANS on phone from Mumbai, where he is currently shooting the first leg of the movie, his first feature film.
“She is just 21 and the daughter of a respected filmmaker from Egypt. She has made a couple of short films and is also an amazing actor.”
Gandhi, who earned acclaim for his short films, “Right Here Right Now” (2003) and “Continuum” (2006), says he had initially written Aida’s part for an Indian actress but failed to find the right face for it.
“Her role wasn’t planned at all. She had come to India after we met in Berlin and started helping us out in auditioning male actors so that we could cast one of them opposite the character of a female photographer,” he said.
“During the screen test, we saw how excellently she was performing the lines of the photographer. It was then that we decided to rewrite the part for an Egyptian girl rather than an Indian one,” he added.
Gandhi, who used to earlier pen down small screen’s biggest shows “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” and “Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii”, says he auditioned close to 35 Indian actresses for the role but couldn’t settle for any.
“I can’t name the actresses I auditioned, but there were around 30-35. It was frustrating because none of them fitted the bill. I feel there is a serious dearth of acting skills and craftsmanship here because sadly the general perception among Indian actors is that if you hit the gym regularly, you can make a successful actor.”
For “Theseus’ Ship”, which is a multi-lingual film primarily in English with parts in Arabic, Hindi, Gujarati and Swedish, Gandhi has also cast Soham Shah, who made his debut with “Baabarr” in 2009.
“I had not seen Soham’s mainstream film when he auditioned for my film but with whatever I have shot with him, I can say he is a very different and amazing actor. He plays a stockbroker in my project,” he said.
“Theseus’ Ship” weaves four tracks together. These include a story of an intuitive blind photographer, a monk’s ethics put to test, an obsessive compulsive clockmaker with an ailing heart, and a young stockbroker who gets caught up in the stolen kidney racket.
The narrative will travel to Cairo, Stockholm and Mumbai.
After shooting the Indian part of the film, Gandhi will be moving to Sweden and plans to finish the shooting schedules by September-end. He plans a festival release for the film rather than a commercial one.