“I had organised all sorts of theatre productions — from Shakespeare to contemporary drama — during my undergraduate years, but had never worked on a film set. So after returning to Mumbai, I thought it would be fun trying my hand in that field,” she says nonchalantly. Rhea, who debuts as a producer with Rajshree Ojha’s Aisha, might not be as much in the news as her elder sibling Sonam, but the buzz around actor Anil Kapoor’s second daughter is definitely on the rise.
The film is a home production and has Sonam Kapoor pitched opposite Abhay Deol in the lead. Rhea admits first-up she was almost conned into believing that her father would hand-hold her through her first project. “I thought I could manage on my own, but I didn’t want to start off with a home production. But dad convinced me and told me he would be around to guide me through. Then within a few months he left for LA to shoot for the television series 24, leaving me in the lurch. Thanks to my associate producers I was able to pull up my socks and get my stuff together. And can you believe it, I haven’t screwed up!” she grins.
Prior to Aisha Rhea had done her homework though. She assisted Ayan Mukherjee in his debut film Wake Up Sid, where she “observed and understood what happened on a film set.”
Aisha’s story, which is the Indian cinematic adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Emma, is set in contemporary Delhi. Aisha, played by Sonam, like Emma, loves to meddle in everyone’s love affairs with the intention of fixing matches.
“When the script was narrated to me, I was chuckling away. I had read the novel in school and did not remember much of it, but I could only visualise Sonam playing Aisha,” she says.
Working on a project with a sibling expectedly turned out to be a ball. “You need to strike a balance between being a professional and a sibling. But of course, it’s more of an advantage since you already have a great rapport and know what works best,” she adds.
For all the fun she had on the sets, acting, says Rhea is certainly not her thing. “As kids we would accompany dad on outdoor shoots during vacations but would mostly wander off to shop or just fool around. I cannot imagine myself acting ever. It is too stressful. But production, for some reason, seems right. Once I started reading scripts, I realised I would be better off at it,” she shrugs.
The film, which is shot largely in Delhi (45 days schedule) with few schedules in Rishikesh and Mumbai, is rumoured to have a lumpsome investment in the costumes for the cast. There are as many as 80 costume changes for Sonam’s character with 50-odd ones for others in the film. “The high-street labels are in keeping with the social status of the characters. Both Sonam and I love clothes. I would accompany the stylists to New York and upgrade my wardrobe in the process,” she giggles.