22-year-old Arya Bannerjee is the daughter of sitar maestro Pandit Nikhil Bannerjee and herself a masters in Hindustani classical music. A trained actor from Anupam Kher’s acting school in Bombay the shy and sophisticated Arya claims to have had to “unlearn” and “relearn” a lot to become the “rough, in your face, driven and complicated” Naina, the small town model who exposes a casting couch racket on TV.
26-year-old soft-spoken Punjab boy, Herry Tangri, who plays the flashy, debauched pop star Loki Local, also seems poles apart from his screen persona. As if on cue Herry, who assisted filmmaker Aijaz Khan in White Elephant, sets the record straight: “I love singing and dancing but don’t do drugs, don’t smoke and have just one drink in 20-30 days.” “He sent us a clean shaven picture in which he looked like Yuvraj Singh. He looked too handsome for the part. We had to make him grow his hair and sport the weird beard,” remembers casting director Atul Mongia. “Now people think of me as a real singer and ask me when my next album will be out,” laughs Herry. His mother could not understand the film but felt her son looked good.
25-year-old Gurgaon guy, Raj Kumar Yadav, came with solid acting credentials. He had worked in Delhi theatre and also did the two-year acting course from FTII, Pune. The only hitch for him to play Adarsh, the guy who shoots the infamous sex scene, was his muscular body. “I had to lose six kg in a month to qualify,” he remembers. Raj’s family has been more than happy after LSD. “Khandaan ka sapna poora ho gaya,” he smiles. Raj has signed Sonali Bose’s Chittagong on the Chittagong massacre where he plays one of the revolutionaries.
24-year-old Anshuman Jha who plays an Adi Chopra-inspired filmmaker, has been acting on Delhi stage since he was 13. The youngest to come out of the Barry John acting school he has worked in plays of Alyque Padamsee and Joy Fernandes, is part of the First Ray theatre group, his latest being Girish Karnad’s Bali. The confident kid claims to have earlier nixed second leads in films like Wake Up Sid and Delhi Belly. For him Rahul was a difficult role to play because of his vulnerability. “I am very confident, don't show my soft side to very few people. The role took the arrogance out of me,” he says. Anshuman is clear that the conventional won’t work for him, he will go the Anurag Kashyap way. The reason is also clear. Says he: “I know I am ugly but I am very good.”
Of the entire lot Amit Sial is a veteran. A Barry John theatre artiste, he went off to Australia to pursue a course in international business in 1997, cutting himself off from acting. However, he made a comeback with Tanuja Chandra’s Hope and a Little Sugar in 2004. “We merged on a single platform, it became a collective effort, everything in balance with each other,” remembers Amit of LSD. He is working in With Love to Obama, a political satire about how recession impacts the gangster world in UP.
Sandeep Bose who plays the ostentatious father of the heroine in the first story worked in Delhi theatre a decade ago, assisted Prakash Jha and Sunil Agnihotri and runs a casting agency in Mumbai. Sandeep now has an offer from Vikram Bhatt.
The editor of LSD, Namrata Rao, also filled in as the bitchy store attendant Sonal, had been active in Delhi theatre but gave it up on passing out in 2002. She finds it “wonderful” and “cool” to get back to acting but did find her role as an actor coming in conflict with that of the editor. “As an editor we complain about how actors are only bothered about themselves but not the overall film and here I was doing the same. I had to kick myself to become objective,” she says.