Fatima Sana Sheikh wasn’t initially keen on ‘Dangal’

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Fatima Sana Sheikh had doubts thinking she was suited to play the role of wrestler Geeta Phogat in Aamir Khan’s upcoming movie ‘Dangal.’

Sheikh, who is one of two unknown actresses cast as the daughters of Khan’s character in the film, said that when she was asked to audition, she researched the Phogats and called back saying she felt unqualified for the part. Phogat is the daughter of Haryanvi wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, played by Khan, aged 51. ‘Dangal’ is the story of how Mr Phogat trained his daughters, Geeta and Babita, in wrestling. They won India’s first medals in female wrestling at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, reports NDTV.com

Sheikh said in an interview; “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 her and read about Mahavir Singh Phogat.” After this this initial research was done, the new star called back with reservations. “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.

Whilst auditioning, Sheikh met Sanya Malhotra, the star who would eventually be cast as Babita. They instantly had a connection. “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 a workshop with Mukesh Chhabra (casting director), director Nitesh Tiwari, gym, and audition with Aamir Khan, physical training and wrestling to see whether we look like wrestlers,” she said.

Sheikh added further; “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 added further that training for the wrestling scenes was the difficult bit. She said, “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.”

Khan has already spoken volumes of how impressed he is by Sheikh and Malhotra’s performances and their commitment to the film.

‘Dangal’ releases on 23rd December.

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