Kalki Koechlin’s role in Shanghai inspired by Julia Roberts in Pelican Brief

MUMBAI: Julia Roberts and Kalki Koechlin just got bonded. Koechlin plays a half-Caucasian foreigner in Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai, a prized role that she bagged from two of the closest contenders Maya Tideman and Giselle Monteiro.

And though Koechlin isn’t quite blonde, Banerjee is willing to settle for her brown hair-colour.

Banerjee tells Businessofcinema.com, "I needed an actress with a Caucasian look to play Sarah Pearson. And honestly our budget couldn’t afford the big names from the West. So the choice was narrowed down considerably. I’ve to say all the three girls who were short-listed were very very good."

It was a neck-to-neck race for the leading lady’s role between India-based theatre and film Maya Tideman and Kalki Koechlin. Giselle Monteiro was a close third choice for the part of Shalini Pearson, the heroine of Dibakar Bannerjee’s Shanghai.

Banerjee adds, "It really was a photo-finish between Maya and Kalki. What clinched the role in Kalki’s favour was her quirkiness. Kalki conveys a lot of intrigue in her personality. And that’s the quality that I needed for the part. Yes, the fact that I had recently shot an ad with Kalki (with Imran Khan) certainly had established a comfort level between us. But that had nothing to do with her getting the part."

For Banerjee’s Shanghai, Kalki Koechlin’s brief is Julia Roberts in The Pelicam Brief.

Explains Banerjee, who is currently in Latur to shoot film, "It’s a very different Kalki from what we saw in Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D. She plays an intellectual academic serious-minded girl who gets embroiled in a political conspiracy in India. In intent and situation and personality Kalki is like Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief."

The film will be shot in Latur and Baramati. Koechlin, we are told, would get no time to honeymoon after her recent marriage to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap!

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