Giselli Monterio: I was happy to meet Shahrukh Khan, but not nervous

Love Aaj Kal’s Punjabi kudi Giselli Monterio makes a grand entry into B-town with Shahrukh Khan’s production Always Kabhi Kabhi

Within 20 days of coming to India Giselli Monteiro landed the plum role as Saif’s love interest in Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal. Despite keeping quiet through most of the film, she made her presence felt – and one person who felt it was King Khan. When Roshan Abbas was struggling to find the perfect gal to play the shy Aishwarya in Always Kabhi Kabhi, his producer Shahrukh suggested Giselli.

“Roshan told me that much later,” says Giselli. “When I was called to Red Chillies for an audition, I was already excited, because it was for Shahrukh Khan’s production. My first film was with Saif Ali Khan and now a Shahrukh Khan production – I thought that was awesome! I was already so happy to be invited for audition.”

Like any other girl Giselli was elated that SRK recommended her, but she did not have butterflies in her tummy when she met him. “All these guys (her co-actors) were damn nervous, because they have grown up watching Shahrukh Khan in movies, but I was fine. I was excited to meet him, but seeing the expression on their faces was priceless. When he (SRK) walked in, he was so humble and simple. I think he knows people get nervous around him. He just gave us all a hug and that bridged the distance between us.”

AKK is a school drama and Aishwarya, one of the central characters, is a shy girl forced into acting by her mother. Giselli elaborates, “This girl comes from abroad. Her mother wants her to become an actress because it was her dream. She feels a lot of pressure, as it is not what she wants to do.”

Fortunately for this Brazilian model it was not so in her own case. Acting happened by chance, but it brings lots of joy to her. The first time she visited India in 2008 was for a modeling assignment. She reveals, “I have been a model since 17 and everywhere I travelled I was told that I look Indian, so I wanted to come to India and figure out why.”

“I was casting for modeling and there I met Anahita (Shroff)… She was doing styling for Imtiaz’s movie and she knew he was looking for a Caucasian girl. I went to audition for that role, but Imtiaz’s wife felt I looked Indian. So they decided to give me a different outfit and audition for a different role. I didn’t understand anything and I was doing what they were telling me.”

In LAK the young actor didn’t have many dialogues and, despite her taking diction and language classes, someone else dubbed for her in AKK. “I did not dub for the movie because the accent is still there,” she affirms, “but I will continue with the classes. It is really not easy to learn Hindi. But when you really want something, anything is possible. You’ve got to work hard. Now I do understand a lot; when I am having a conversation, I can show off for a little while, but then I get stuck.”

Speaking the local language is a problem for Giselli, but understanding the nuances of her character was not. “It’s a school movie, so it’s easy to connect. It doesn’t matter where you come from; a school is a school. And especially with this kind of character – she is sweet and shy.” Is that her in real life? “I can be shy at times, but Aishwarya is someone who expects everyone to be nice to her all the time and breaks their hearts if they are not. In that way I am different,” she smiles.

Giselli is now two films old, but “I don’t make any plans. Acting was not my plan. Yet it is going so well, so I think it’s better that I don’t plan anything. I am going with the flow. I am doing what I can. I have been taking workshops for acting and I learned a lot. I am exploring a different side of me. I think it’s an interesting career and a very challenging thing. I am enjoying it.”