Irrfan and Saba Qamar
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; April 29, 2017)

Saket ChaudharySaba Qamar might seem like an unlikely choice to play Irrfan Khan’s wife in the forthcoming film, Hindi Medium. But for director Saket Chaudhary, the decision to cast the Pakistani actress had little to do with featuring the perfect find, as much as it did with lack of options.

“Casting a Pakistani actor isn’t your first choice,” the filmmaker argues while addressing questions about his leading lady, who plays a mother in the drama. Chaudhary adds, “We considered the options we had here, but I was struggling to find an actress willing to play a mother, so we widened our options.” Chaudhary narrowed in on Qamar, who will make her Bollywood debut with the film, after he first spotted her in the Pakistani serial, Maat (2011).

The team had closely evaded the backlash that resulted from India’s strained relationship with Pakistan following the 2016 Uri attacks. They were in the midst of shooting in Delhi when certain political groups demanded that Pak artistes leave the country within 48 hours. “We had three days of shoot left with her, so we pushed through. But still, there was uncertainty about the film’s release. The relationship between the countries is unpredictable; fortunately, however, things have improved over the months.”