Playing Rani Mukherjee as a child, the nine-year old Ayesha Kapoor has been given the job of performing what’s debatably the most difficult character ever written for a child. (Visit Special: All about `Black`)
Playing a deaf and mute psychologically traumatized maladjusted girl, Ayesha Kapoor simply stuns you with her performance. Where does a nine-year old glean those dark black emotions of a raging protesting tormented disconnected girl? (Also Read: Monty: Composing phenomenon from `Black` )
A resident of Pondicherry, Ayesha whose mother is German and father Indian doesn’t have a clue. “I don’t know how I played Michelle. I just did it. It wasn’t that difficult, really….” The little stunner has just finished her two-hour riding lessons, and is very happy.
“I love horses,” she tells me excitedly. “And I’d love to do a film with lots of horses in it, like International Velvet or Seabiscuit.”
Though dark, Black entailed a lot of horsing around on the sets. “I like acting… I don’t know how I do it. At first I was scared whether I could do it. Then once I knew I could do it I wasn’t scared at all. In fact it was quite easy. I had to practice a lot with my eyes. I had to look blind. That was very hard. Sanjay made shooting very easy. Sure there were times when I got really tired, and I had to rest. He‘d patiently wait for me. There was this one time when I had to do a really hard scene with my screen-dad (Dhritiman Chatterjee). At times like this Sanjay would just tell me to stop. Then again we’d start. He called me Honey The Bunny The Funny….”
She of course called everyone by his or her first-name on the sets. It was ‘Amitabh’ and ‘Sanjay’ for Ayesha. And she took her role to extremes of preparation.
Recalls Sanjay, “She’d often get into a huddle with Amitji over a shot. ‘Amitabh, don’t you think we should be standing in this way, with the light in our face?’ We’d all be…like…hmmmmm! Amitji would listen to her very patiently. Imagine a nine-year old explaining to Amitabh Bachchan how a scene should be done! Ayesha is amazing. When she left to go back home in Pondicherry I felt a piece of me had gone.”
When I tell Ayesha this she grows silent. “I hadn’t seen any of Amitabh’s films. I didn’t know who he was. But the first time when he came on the sets, I was really scared, actually.”
She refuses to elaborate further. Instead she talks about her dreams. “I want to be an actress and I want to be a writer. I write poem on wildlife and stuff like that.”
Ayesha learnt the sign language for Black. “And now I use it with my friends. We communicate in the secret language that only we understand. I’d love to do more films. But I don’t want acting to come in the way of my education. In case I don’t become an actress I can still become something else,” she ends with a wisdom that defies her tender years.