A lady called Nova making her debut big screen appearance in a movie called Casanova.... Coincidence? Synchronistic? Or destiny?
"Maybe all, maybe none. I was perhaps in the right place at the right time and everything fell into order in the right way," says 26-year-old Dubai born-and-bred Nova Krishnan.
The Indian expatriate, who grew up watching South Indian superstar Mohanlal's films, couldn't believe her luck when director and close friend Roshan Andrews offered her a prominent role as Mohanlal's love interest in his comic caper Casanova.
"Roshan and I are close friends and when he first conceptualised this movie three years ago, he offered me the role of one of the six love interests in the film. I was modelling in Dubai then and wanted to create my fashion brand. I couldn't commit to a shoot in India."
Destiny knocked on her door once again when in October Nova was offered another role in the same movie. "By then, Mohanlal was already on board, a producer had been secured for this big budget movie, five other actresses had already been cast, and most importantly, the location of the movie had been shifted from India to Dubai. Try as I may, there wasn't a single reason for my not doing the film. Naturally, I said yes. Who was I to refute an offer that had fallen so effortlessly into my lap? Besides, how many star-struck fans are romanced by Mohanlal!"
By November shooting had begun in full swing and in between modelling gigs, establishing her fashion line and planning her wedding, Nova shot day and night, sometimes for 24 hours non-stop.
"It was hard work — something I had never done before," she says. "Although I've grown up in the modelling world, which is very similar to the movie industry, I never had to act out a role in front of the camera. As a model, I'm used to putting on my make-up and waiting long hours for my shot. But once in front of the camera, I do as I'm told — smile, pout, or look indifferent — and that's all."
As an actress however, it was a different ballgame. Nova was required to memorise dialogues, dance sequences and learn to modulate her voice all at once.
"On the first day of the shoot, I was petrified. I didn't realise how camera-shy I was. It felt like too many people were watching my moves," says the bride-to-be.
"Fortunately, I had Mohanlal as a co-star, a man who's done this so many times, one who has made the camera his best friend." Mohanlal guided Nova through every step of the shoot. "He gave me the encouragement I needed to overcome my shyness."
By the time they shot the movie's title track, Casanova, Nova felt like a pro in front of the camera.
The day, which began at 3am and went on for 24 hours, was gruelling but satisfying. "The entire song was shot in Dubai Festival City," says Nova, who designed her own dresses for her role.
She also enjoyed riding the helicopter and all her dream cars, a Maserrati, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini, for the song sequence.
"Being a Roshan Andrews film, I have high expectations. A man who won a National Award for his previous movie will surely make me shine in this one," she says.
As a new bride, would Nova be willing to accept future roles? "If they come my way, I'm not going to say no. I'm marrying a man who supports my career. He can't wait to see the movie's early promos in January."
Upon its release in May, Nova hopes offers will start pouring in. "As long as a movie doesn't intrude on my passion for fashion, I'll be more than happy to do it," she adds.