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99 Songs: Didn't want any problem on my first film: Rahman on why he didn't cast Pakistani actors

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Mumbai, Feb 21: Music maestro A R Rahman on Thursday said the director of his debut home production '99 Songs' had zeroed in on a Pakistani actor but they dropped the idea as he didn't want any trouble.

Rahman, who is making his debut as a producer and writer, said they wanted a new face, someone who was good both as an actor and musician.

A R Rahman

The film's director Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy found three promising artistes from across the border but they finally decided to go with Ehan Bhat, who hails from Kashmir.

"We were looking for a hero who can sing, play and is charming. We were scanning everything. Our friend (director) goes to Pakistan and picks up three guys from there and I was like why are you going there? I said, 'why can't you find any boy in India?' He said this guy plays and sings very well," he quipped.

"I said 'what if something happens?' This is before all the trouble happened. I told him that this is my first film and don't make any problem for me. And exactly same thing happened no?" Rahman said at the trailer launch of the film.

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Vishwesh said they were looking for someone whose Hindi diction was good and he was good with musical instruments. "And they just happened to be not from India...He (Ehan) made it for all our choices. He worked very hard. They were actors and became musicians, none of the piano and drumming scenes are pretending, everything is real," Vishwesh added.

After the 2016 Uri attacks, Karan Johar's 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil', featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, faced trouble in its release. Johar, in a video statement, said he will not engage with talent from across the border in his future projects. A film body cautioned producers against hiring Pakistani actors.

'99 Songs' is about a young man named Jay whose life centres around music and his girlfriend Sophie. The film also stars Manisha Koirala, Lisa Ray, Ranjit Barot and Rahul Ram. Rahman said the story is about a guy who has composed hundred songs to get a girl. "We felt hundred was too much and then we made it 99 songs and so the title also is that." The composer said Vishwesh is forward thinking, while he was commercial in his approach.

"In the film, we have balanced everything. All the classic stuff is of him and all the masala stuff is mine," Rahman said. Produced by Rahman's banner YM Movies and Ideal Entertainment and presented by Jio Studios, "99 Songs" has been made in Hindi and dubbed in Tamil and Telugu. "I am from South and it is easy for me to make a Tamil film. But the story is pan- India. When you do in Tamil and you dub it in Hindi, it shows," Rahman said.

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