On Friday, Nimrat Kaur on reaching Cape Town instagrammed a photograph of an airport trolley carrying two suitcases and a board that read: “Homeland welcomes Nimrat Kaur”. A closer look at the image reveals that the suitcases bear traces of previous tags and stickers, presumably from the various places she has visited over the last one-and-a-half year, thanks to The Lunchbox in which her character Ila received much love and adulation.
What was surprising, however, was the fact that the well-travelled actor went to London for the first time in June this year. It was a stopover on her way back home after attending a festival in Slovenia. On her first morning in London, she found herself giving a screen test for Homeland, the Emmy award-winning American drama series. The casting director loved her and the confirmation to be a guest lead on the fourth season of the political thriller came a few days later. “The Homeland team has been shooting in Cape Town since July but I joined them recently,” says the actor, who plays an ISI agent in the mini-series. Interestingly, it was only after the screen test that the actor watched the show’s pilot episode. On Thursday night, she came up to speed with all the action that had taken place in the show’s previous seasons, which are currently being aired on television in India.
In the upcoming season of Homeland, which premieres in October, the action shifts to Islamabad, with the sets in Cape Town recreating the Pakistani city. “The character I am playing is an enigmatic woman and an antithesis to a typical Pakistani woman. She is strong yet very sensual,” says Kaur, who has shot only indoors till now and will soon begin her outdoor shoots.
“They have a talent of making everything look so authentic. Everything on the set is organised and scheduled way in advance,” says Kaur.
The actor is impressed with the writing and the acting talent on the show and is yet to find out about the progression of her character, Tasleem Quereshi. “I am discovering my character as and when they release the script of each episode. Since it is a mini-series, they often tweak the part and rewrite scenes just before the shoot,” she says.
Kaur, who is in this part of South Africa till the end of August, returns to India for a while, before joining them again later. “Since I am a guest lead, I don’t have to be present throughout the schedule,” she says.
That works well for the actor. Back home, there are rumours doing the rounds of her starring in a movie opposite Rajkummar Rao, but Kaur says that nothing is finalised yet. “Saurabh Shukla gave me a narration which I loved, but I have not signed anything till now. I’m not sure if Rajkummar has been cast in it,” she says, and adds that she is quite keen to do a Hindi film now and hopes that something gets finalised soon.
This season of Homeland will also feature Mad Men star Mark Moses, Art Malik of True Lies, and Corey Stoll from House of Cards as well as Suraj Sharma from Life of Pi. “It has been a very humbling experience,” she says. Kaur is planning to make the most of her time in Cape Town, but the city’s unpredictable weather has played spoilsport. The actor, who trekked in Slovenia and also Kashmir for a week earlier this year, plans to do the same in Cape Town.