Be yourself, no matter what, says Aisha

Written by Pooja Pillai | Pooja Pillai | Mumbai | Updated: Jul 29 2010, 05:49am hrs
Surprising as it may seem, all the producers that Rajshree Ojha approached when she went around pitching for her film Aisha, wanted a man to play the lead character. The five producers I went to said they liked the idea, but the lead character should be a man. I was horrified. It's adapted from Jane Austen's Emma. It should have a female protagonist. The director was speaking at the Screen Preview of Aisha, held on Wednesday, where she was accompanied by producer Rhea Kapoor and cast members Sonam Kapoor, Ira Dubey, Amrita Puri, Lisa Haydon, Cyrus Sahukar and Arunoday Singh.

Ojha and scriptwriter Devika Bhagat finally got a break when they approached Sonam. The actress herself had been considering adapting Emma for the big screen. I was only getting depressing roles around that time and wanted to do something lighthearted, she explained.

Emma also happens to be one of her favourite books. "Just before I got the text message from Devika about it, I had spoken to my friend, producer Aarti Shetty, about making a movie on it. She too had the movie's script but had not gone through it. This was destined to happen.

Ojha had her heart set on getting Sonam to play the lead role. Once the actress was told the idea, her sister Rhea and father Anil Kapoor, too, came on board. The team asserted that the movie can't be called a chick flick. It's a romantic comedy. The movie narrates protagonist Aisha's journey as she tries to change lives of people around her for the better. At the same time, she grows into a new person, Ojha says.

Rhea added, The moral is that one needs to grow up and accept oneself for what one is. One should be comfortable in his/her skin, before one can get everything that one want. The coming-of-age tale is set in South Delhi's swish set where a group of friends discovers that a newcomer has turned their world topsy-turvy. I play Aarti Menon, the only person who's comfortable being herself. She represents the modern Indian woman who's grown up, has a job and responsibilities and knows who she is, explained Haydon. While the movie may be titled Aisha, the film is as much about the other characters as it is about the central charactersmall-town girl Shefali Thakur (Puri), geek-turned-Greek God Dhruv (Singh), nouveau riche scion Randhir Gambhir (Sahukar), brash and bold Pinky Bose (Dubey) and the arrogant but sensitive Arjun Burman (Abhay Deol).

Aisha has also made a lot of waves with the slick styling of its characters, but Rhea stressed that it's not something that will overwhelm the main plot. The looks add just one more layer to the story, as they're all character-centric. A character's personality and background is reflected in how he or she dresses up. Aisha grew up without a mom and she's been pampered. She wants everything around her to be perfect and you can see it in the way she dresses herself. Her best friend Pinki, on the other hand, is outspoken and brash, and that shows in her dressing style.

Ojha also stressed that the movie can't be compared to the 1995 Alicia Silverstone-starrer Clueless, which was also inspired by Emma. The root is the same, but both movies are set in such different universes. Clueless was a high-school story set in Beverly Hills, while Aisha is about a group of 20-somethings set in Delhi. They're completely different experiences. For more watch out for August 6 issue of SCREEN.