Aishwarya was the first choice for Parineeta

Mumbai: Filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra was keen on casting Aishwarya Rai for the role of Lalita in `Parineta` as he was not sure of the acting abilities of then newcomer Vidya Balan.

Vidya made her debut in Bollywood with 2005 hit `Parineeta`, a musical produced by Chopra. "When we thought of `Parineeta`, I immediately thought of a face like Aishwarya Rai. The character of the girl is like two men fall in love with the heroine has to be bigger. But Pradeep Sarkar (director) told me about her (Vidya) I was like let me see what she can do," Chopra told reporters here, on Friday night.

"But then we tested and tried her (Vidya) and she cleared it," he said. `Parineeta` was adapted from 1914 Bengali novella of the same name by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. The film starred Vidya, Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt in pivotal roles.

Talking about other roles – Shekar that was essayed by Saif Ali Khan and Girish, played by Sanjay Dutt, Chopra said, "I had called up Sanjay saying there is a role for you in my film and he agreed. We wanted the character of Girish (Sanjay) to be bigger than Shekar (Saif Ali Khan)."

Also, Rekha, a yesteryear actress had a cameo performance in a night club as a singer in this film. "For this cameo we went to who`s-who of Bollywood but then we realised it has to be someone who is a classic diva and who better than her (Rekha). I had gone to meet her (Rekha) after Chopra had spoken to her about the appearance.

It was fantastic meeting her..she does her own styling, hair, make-up, photography. Even for the song she had valuable inputs to provide. It was amazing and we had a wonderful time working with her," director Pradeep Sarkar said.