Vidushi Mehra is the antithesis of a film star.
She is an investment banker married to designer Nikhil Mehra. And she has had a 14-year-long association with the stage. Trained under Lushin Dubey, the 32-year-old Mehra has acted in several plays, her favourite being the role of Mary Magdalene in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Now looking to make her mark in films with Anil Kapoor’s Aisha, which she calls “Bollywood’s first chick flick”, Mehra plays Isabella, elder sister to the heroine Sonam Kapoor, in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma set in modern-day Delhi. The film, which releases on Friday, also stars alternate cinema biggie Abhay Deol.
The world’s a stage: Theatre actor Vidushi Mehra is all set for her debut film Aisha’s release.
So how did the Delhi artiste bag the role? Aisha happened through a friend; actor Chitrangda Singh, who she caught up with at a social event in May 2009. A week later, Singh put her in touch with casting director Amita Sehgal, who had come down to Delhi for the auditions of the film. “She said I have a tailor-made role for you, would you like to play Sonam’s sister? And I said ‘Sonam who?’” laughs Mehra. Within two months of her screen test, she began filming for Aisha.
She is comfortable with the fact that she is playing a supporting role:“I think a supporting actor has longer meaning in Bollywood, our heroines have a very short shelf life and supporting actors tend to stay on, like a lambe race ka ghora. Whenever you have an opportunity, you should do well and leave it to the director to figure out where they want to place you.”
There has been a lot of buzz around Kapoor’s fashion extravagance in the film, with comparisons being drawn with the American series Sex and the City. Mehra, however, argues that the film is contemporary—she describes it as “a costume drama”. “The directors have managed to weave a simple story alongside the heavily stylized world.”
Despite its chick-flick image, she says, Deol too is a star in the film. “It was lovely to watch their romantic scenes. It was a lot like watching theatre.”
For Mehra, theatre is still the real deal, “It has an instant connect with the audience. You’re standing there and on a stage performing in front of a live audience, the reaction, applause; it’s all instantaneous, whereas in a film there is a wait-out period. There are issues like if the film does well, do the actors do well too?”
Mehra says she would like to juggle film and theatre. She has finished projects such as No One Killed Jessica, which will release this December, and has a cameo role in Vishal Bhardwaj’s forthcoming project Saath Khoon Maaf. She will also be performing for a play in Delhi in September, Sangam, Where the Three Rivers Meet.
Aisha will release across theatres on Friday.