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Mighty Sensational
Text by Nisha Paul
Published: Volume 15, Issue 10, October, 2007
The dark horse at the Cannes Film Festival this year was actress Archie Panjabi who was unexpectedly awarded The Chopard Trophy for a Breakout Performance, for her role in the much awaited Anjolina Jolie starrer, A Mighty Heart. Panjabi met with Verveís London consultant, Nisha Paul, at Claridges Hotel bar in Mayfair and the two friends chatted at length, not having met for a while since Panjabi had been away on film shootings and out of the city

She has beautiful eyes, an enigmatic smile and a penchant for different accents. Earlier this year, she was the fashion darling at Cannes, where she won The Chopard Trophy for a Breakout Performance in her new film, A Mighty Heart. Archie Panjabi considers herself part Mumbaiite, part British and she isnít your average actress, often earnestly speaking about the pressures of her job whilst still believing passionately in kismet. In A Mighty Heart, she essays the role of former Wall Street Journal reporter, Asra Q. Nomani. The film is scripted from Mariane Pearlís book that accounts the terrifying and unforgettable story of her husband, journalist Daniel Pearlís kidnapping and death in Pakistan, in 2002.

True stories when replicated accurately leave a residue long after the film is over, touching you in more ways than imaginable. A Mighty Heart is cleverly shot, debating dignity and justice in incomprehensible circumstances. It transplants you, amidst the buzz and smell of Karachi along with its intrinsic layers of corruption and religious beliefs, into a compelling plot.

What was the experience like of working in A Mighty Heart? What did you feel about Michael Winterbottom as director, how did the association help you as an actor?
When I first met him, I told him honestly what I thought about the character. I knew I really liked it and wanted to learn more but he reassured me saying, ĎDonít worry, you will meet the real character and understand her mindset and whilst shooting we will improvise it furtherí. I was very excited with that, as itís much more challenging than just getting a script, going on set and learning the lines. He is a brilliant director, very down to earth and has a simple outlook. He is not looking for attenton and is very passionate about the films he makes.

Describe the experience of working with Angelina Jolie...
I was a little nervous to start with but we are both Geminians and just kicked it off from day one and got on really well. She is probably one of the best actresses I have worked with and will ever work with. I found her easy to talk to and humble. We were part of a team and the only two women in the crew. Sometimes that can go the other way, even though people often donít admit it, there can be tension but she made me feel very comfortable. She is very clever and intelligent and great fun to be with.

And of shooting in India....
I spent a part of my childhood in Mumbai and went to school in Churchgate and Nariman Point and I remember thinking as a child that one day I would come back and work here as an actress. And so for me, when we were shooting in those areas with Angelina, it was like a dream come true. Most of my scenes in the film were shot in a house that we had rented for seven weeks, in a Sindhi colony in Pune and since I am Sindhi, it was nostalgic too. There are a lot of parallels with myself and this film.

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