Of course, his initial reaction was a 'no'. Nevertheless, he asked his casting director Nandini Shrikent to audition young Alia. "We tested around 500 girls - models, beauty pageant winners, girls from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and God alone knows which other city!" he recalls. However, what came as a pleasant surprise to him was that Alia made it to the initial shortlist of 10.
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With pride and affection, Karan says, "You should have seen this tubby girl singing to Sonam Kapoor's song Bahara from I Hate Luv Storys, with all her jhatkas and matkas. It was hysterical! She was too good, putting her hair up and aping the typical Bollywood heroine to the hilt. I couldn't help thinking, 'Here is a modern, affluent girl who has the perfect mannerisms of a Hindi film heroine!' The moment I saw her name on the shortlist, I told my assistant directors to call her in. I just asked her one thing, 'Will you lose weight?' Without blinking, she said yes. So, I packed her off to a dietician and three months later, she was back in my office, 16 kilos lighter, looking svelte and exuberant."
Like Sidharth, Alia too was kicked when she heard that Karan was going to be directing her debut film. "She screeched so loudly, I thought my ear drums would burst," says Karan. Being the youngest on set, this dynamite was pampered by everyone in the unit. Looking back, Karan feels it was well worth it. "See her on screen and you will know why I am saying that," he says, and adds, "Alia is meant for the movies."
Dharma Productions and Red Chillies Entertainment's Student Of The Year releases on October 19.
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