Prachi Desai, who is essaying the role of Mohammad Azharuddin’s first wife Naureen in the recently released film Azhar, says her perceptions about Naureen changed overnight after she met her in person. “The only fact that we knew about her was that she was the first wife of Azhar. Apart from that there wasn’t any research material, videos or interviews of her. I didn’t even have her photograph. My director Tony D’Souza knew a little bit about her through whatever he had heard from Azhar or his son Abbas. But till you hear from the horse’s mouth, it is all make belief and merely people’s versions of the other person. While the writer and director had their own perceptions of the character, I had something else in mind but I decided to keep my imagination aside and decided to portray whatever the director wanted me to. I was totally clueless about the character that I was playing,” shares Prachi who feels her meeting with Naureen was the most fortunate thing that happened to her.
She adds, “Just after we started shooting the film in Hyderabad, I met Naureen and that was the best thing that happened. After meeting her, my perception about her personality changed overnight. I was told that she is a very shy person and never makes eye contact but when I met her I felt that her gaze was very captivating. She appeared to be a very dignified and confident woman. I have tried to bring alive her character traits. I realised that it was a silent love story between Azhar and Naureen... they don’t talk much to each other but they communicate a lot through eye contact, and we have tried showing that aspect of their relationship in one of the songs in the movie.”
Prachi and the movie’s team respected Naureen’s privacy when they met her. “We didn’t approach her by pressurising her or by saying that we are trying to learn more about her personality because we are working on a movie that depicts her character. Her son Abbas made this meeting possible at her house in Hyderabad, and she was very welcoming and nice to us. Since she is such a private person, the team of Azhar and I also wanted to respect that.”
Sharing a memorable incident while shooting for the film, Prachi says, “Azhar’s son Abbas was teaching me to play cricket. There was one whole team of girls on one side while Abbas was the only one in the other team, and yet he managed to win the game. It was fun.”