Indian music director AR Rahman has revealed that despite him not wanting any Pakistani actors in his first production 99 Songs, director Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy still shortlisted three Pakistani actors for the film.
“I told him what if something happened between India and Pakistan,” Rahman said during a recent interaction with Indian media. Apparently, he was concerned about the uncertainty surrounding India-Pak relations and decided to veto the director’s call even though this preceded the 2016 Uri Attacks, following which the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association had boycotted Pakistani artists.
“The same thing happened, no?” Rahman said referring to the eventual ban on Pakistani artists that would have ultimately halted his film’s production.
He also disclosed that the requirement for the main lead was for someone who could act and sing. The director found three actors who fit the criteria, all of whom happened to be from Pakistan. To this, the music composer asked the director to hold auditions again in India in order to put more effort into finding relevant actors locally. “I said ‘This is my first movie, don’t make a problem for me’,” Rahman revealed.
They then decided to cast Indian actor Ehan Bhat as the main lead along with Edilsy Vargas, Manisha Koirala, Lisa Ray, Rahul Ram of the rock band Indian Ocean and composer Ranjit Barot.