French Superstar Mehdi Nebbou To Direct Sridevi

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Sridevi and Mehdi Nebbou in 'English Vinglish'
Sridevi and Mehdi Nebbou in ‘English Vinglish’

French superstar Mehdi Nebbou who is regarded as one of the most accomplished star-actors in Europe, seems to be completely besotted by his co-star Sridevi in English Vinglish.

Minutes after the film’s premiere in the prestigious Gala section at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday night, Mehdi Nebbou, breathless with excitement, spoke exclusively about his plans for the comeback queen.

Nebbou who has acted in 20 successful films in French and English in a film career of 7 years, says he will turn director soon with a film starring Sridevi.

Said the discernibly impressed Sri-convert, “She is incredibly talented. I learnt so much from her while doing English Vinglish. I’d pray that the shooting would never end. And now that it has ended I just saw us together in the film for the first time. It’s sheer magic, all created by her of course.”

Tell the incredibly humble Parisian import that he is being excessively exuberant and Mehdi protests, “Believe me, I’ve never worked with co-star who is so caring, so… how shall I put it? Ah yes, nurturing. That’s the word. Sridevi’s passion for the cinema is not anything overt. She keeps very quiet. But once the camera rolled she was no longer Sridevi. She transformed into her character Shashi and I became my character Laurent. She made us both disappear into our characters.”

Mehdi who is currently shooting his latest French film is a craze in Europe. Brushing aside his stardom he said, “One cannot perform ably in isolation. Sridevi is very inspiring. It is said that the eyes are a window to the soul. Sridevi’s eyes speak a million words. I confess I wasn’t aware of her work, or of Bollywood cinema, before English Vinglish. I learnt so much from working on this project. Sridevi would do a perfect shot with me and then do it again, just to make sure it gets even better.”

Mehdi says he has never seen such commitment in any actor. And then he confesses that he is planning to direct Sridevi and that she’s already agreed.

Says the French actor, “I intend to turn director soon. And I am going to cast Sridevi in my film. I’ve already asked her and she has given her nod. So now I’ve an added incentive to take that plunge into direction sooner rather than later.”

Mehdi Nebbou is likely to be in Mumbai for the premiere of English Vinglish in the first week of October. “I am trying to work it into my schedule. I am shooting on the day of the English Vinglish premiere in Mumbai. But I am trying to convince my assistant director to give me some time off. Even if it’s just for 24 hours I’d like to fly down to Mumbai for the premiere. I’d love to just touch down on the city.”

Mehdi says he is open to doing more Bollywood films, script and schedule allowing. “The thing about English Vinglish is that I got to play a French guy. My director Gauri Shinde was very clear about culturally legitimate casting.”

Mehdi Nebbou is also happy that English Vinglish would be the first film that his 4-year daughter would be able to see. “My little girl has not seen me on screen. So far all my films from France have been… how shall I put it? Adult in content! English Vinglish is the first innocent film I’ve done.”