Mumbai: Long before her Bollywood debut, when Taapsee Pannu danced in a college competition which Anurag Kashyap judged, she was just "a girl in the corner."
Today, the actor headlines his projects and the filmmaker says he has found a great friend in her.
"She went to my college for a month. I picked up the choreographer from that song sequence to do choreography in 'Dev D' and she told me the girl in the corner dancing on stage was her. I had no clue," Anurag says in an interview with PTI.
Anurag and Taapsee have worked in just one film, "Manmarziyaan", but the duo have found much more than a creative collaboration.
"I've found a great friend in her and I don't say that about a lot of people." Anurag says unlike his long time friend and collaborator Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who has "grown" with him, he did not know Taapsee from Adams.
"We just met twice before we started shooting 'Manmarziyaan'. While shooting the film we got into so many fights. But I've found this amazing friend who I don't have to second guess.
"What she says is what she means. I don't have to think twice making fun of her. I just am and she just is. We are extremely comfortable."
The "Sacred Games" director says both of them relate to each other's journey and struggles.
"We identify with each other as being from the outside world who have their own minds, we agree to disagree and we have faced similar struggles."
Anurag says in Taapsee, he has found a person he can count on.
"Sometimes when I'm feeling down, I'll call her?no matter which part of the world she's shooting in?and ask if anyone's at home as I just want to sit at her place and cut off from the world and she says yes please go ahead.
"She thinks she can make me feel much lighter, change my perception of being a dark filmmaker and I also indulge her. We have these fights and battles but in her, I've found a friend who I can count on."
When asked if that's a rarity in the industry, Anurag says, "It isn't rare. Everyone has their set of friends here. It isn't that I didn't have friends before Taapsee, but yes, we both have hit it off really well."
The filmmaker has come on board to present the Hindi version of Taapsee's next, "Game Over", a Tamil/Telugu bilingual drama directed by Ashwin Saravanan.
The thriller chronicles the story of a wheelchair-bound woman dealing with a mysterious identity trying to invade her home.
"I heard the idea from Taapsee when she was doing 'Manmarziyaan'. I thought it's a great idea but how will someone pull it off. Then I saw the film and it impacted me. I can't classify it. I don't know if it's a horror, a thriller as several genres cross over in this."
Two decades ago, Anurag had written the psychological thriller "Kaun", directed by Ram Gopal Varma.
The film chronicled the story of a woman alone at home, who finds a stranger pleading to enter her house on a stormy evening amid reports of a serial killer at large.
"This is something else. 'Kaun' was still character driven. This film is driven by the inexplicable, which you only understand in the middle of it. It plays out with utmost satisfaction."
Written by Saravanan and Kaavya Ramkumar, "Game Over" will release on June 14.