Actress Fatima Sana Shaikh says when she was first asked to audition for the role of wrestler Geeta Phogat in "Dangal", she felt she was not apt for it.
"I got a call for 'Dangal' audition, that time I was not thinking much about it. They (casting agent) told me they are looking for an actor to play Geeta Phogat, I googled for her, read about Mahavir Singh Phogat," Fatima told PTI.
"I called them saying I am not the correct person for the role as I don't look like Geeta Phogat, I don't look like a wrestler, I don't think I should do the film," she said.
But casting agent asked her to audition for the role. "So I gave the audition and forgot about it. After sometime I got a call saying I was shortlisted, I thought there will be 3-4 girls but there were 15. I was disappointed," she said.
Fatima reveals that she met co-actress Sanya Malhotra, who plays Babita Kumari in "Dangal", during the several rounds of audition for the sports drama film."I met Sanya there and we became friends. She had also auditioned for the role of Geeta Phogat. We used to help each other. We had six levels of shortlisting we had workshop with Mukesh Chabra (casting director), director Nitesh Tiwari, gym, audition with Aamir Khan, physical training and wrestling to see whether we look like wrestlers," she said.
After several rounds of auditions, Fatima got the role of Geeta Phogat, India's first female wrestler to win gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games."Dangal" is her first big break in Bollywood, but she is not new to the film world. She started her career with Kamal Hassan's "Chachi 420" as baby girl Bharti.
She also acted in various TV serials and featured in small film roles like "Tahaan", "Bittoo Boss" and "Akaash Vani", among others."I was not getting work even after auditioning for films. So I started working in a studio as a photographer, I assisted a cinematographer for two ads. I was thinking that I will get into photography or cinematography or assist someone.But then the 'Dangal' offer came and I was busy with the auditions," Fatima said."Dangal" is Aamir Khan-starrer film, but the actress did not think much about working with the superstar and rather focused on getting her part play correctly.
"For me pressure was not that I am working with Aamir Khan, but pressure was to look like Geeta Phogat and wrestle like her, I have to be like a professional wrestler.
I was under stress, I was hard on myself for playing this huge role.I worked as a child but this is my debut film," she said.Learning wrestling was the most difficult thing for Fatima. "It was very hard. I don't come from sports background so I had to start from scratch. But our coach motivated us, a lot of credit goes to him," she added.