Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar

With her individuality intact – which even reflects in her movie choices – Huma Qureshi does stand out from the crowd. The year started out on a great note for her with films like ‘Jolly LLB 2’ and ‘Viceroy House’, while ‘Dobara’ which is an official adaptation of ‘Oculus’ has just hit the marque. In a pretty knee-length dress, the stunning lady settles down for a chat. We speak about her latest release while she confesses she loves the frills of being an actor amidst other things…

“Actors are a dispensable commodity”

Did you bring in your own interpretation for ‘Dobara’, to suit the Indian sensibilities?
I saw ‘Oculus’ first and then they gave me the screenplay. And then I forgot the film actually because yes, we definitely wanted to make it our own interpretation. There’s no point of making it otherwise if you just want to copy-paste something. Because people would might as well download and watch the original. In America, it got a worldwide release but in India, a lot of people haven’t seen the film. We have made the story Indian. Indian families are different from the ones in America. We have a different culture, rules, values and relationship with our parents. At 18, our parents don’t tell us, go figure out your own thing. So, we made it as per the Indian audience and also introduced new characters. Like, Rhea Chakraborty’s character is not there in the original. We changed lots of things to make it relatable. I think it is a great collaboration because the film is so good, and Saqib and I are working together. I think it’s the first time that a real-life siblings, are playing siblings on-screen too.

Was it easy to detach from the off-screen brother-sister relationship and portray just the on-screen one?
It was very difficult. I could never disconnect from the fact that he’s my brother. I could never see him just as a co-star. He’s my brother and I’ll always watch out for him. I think he handled it a lot better than me. I would just keep checking on him, if he’s had food and I was just treating him like my brother. He took it far more professionally than I did. That’s how it is. That’s how we are as people.

You’ve always been extremely honest ever since you started out in movies. Not to mention, gutsy with your choices. What has changed over the years though?
Well, I am honest. That hasn’t changed. I’m gutsy, I hope that never changes. I make choices which I stand by. I hope that also never changes. Of course, with each film, touchwood, with successful films, things do change. From a ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ to ‘Badlapur’ to ‘Jolly’ to a ‘Viceroy’, I think a successful film gives you maybe a little bit of more confidence. You feel more confident about your choices. When you’re starting out, you just have conviction and no reason for that conviction. So, it could even be madness. But once you have a successful film under your belt then people start giving you the credibility. So, honestly, I haven’t changed. It’s the perception which has changed.

Is that what you really aimed for?
Actors are a dispensable commodity. There’s always someone fresher, cooler, more interesting on the scene. And female actors are even more dispensable. Unfortunately, we are all about youth and beauty. There’ll always be someone prettier than you are. So, the only thing I can do for myself is, I don’t want to be replaceable. There are many people who are okay with that and it’s a choice which they’ve made. But I want to do interesting characters. I want to be an actor who is known for characters. People should call me because they think I can bring something to the film. If they just want an actor to look good and come for two scenes, then I’m not up for that. That’s what I’ve always had in mind.

So, it’s been conscious to choose work that has some meat…
Yes, but I also want to do commercial films. I will do commercial films, it’s not about that. It’s just that I want to do much more than that. I want to do a ‘Jolly’ and ‘Viceroy’ – why should I choose one between the two? And the audience is also thankfully giving me that sort of response. In fact, I love commercial films. I’ve decided, I want to do more dancing in my films (laughs). I am doing more shows too. So, basically, it’s not about the genre. I just want to do successful films. I just want to do films which reach out to a large audience. That’s the bottom line. I just read the script and go ahead with it.

But you have an inclination towards layered characters, don’t you?
I like doing layered roles, characters with nuances. But I don’t indulge in it. I don’t think of myself as an artist who is doing something great. I’m an actor and I get to do a job, so I feel, let’s just do that well. A lot of people love to talk about a process and how difficult it is, but acting is not rocket science. It’s not like you’re saving the world. I don’t like people who keep talking about how difficult the process is. You’re doing a film which is going to release on a Friday, people are going to enjoy, eat popcorn and go home. That’s about it.

And what about the frills that come along with being an actor. Do you like that?
I love the frills. I love the dress-up, the red carpet. I love all that, anyone who says they don’t love it, is lying. I love the fact that I have a film which goes to Berlin Film Festival. I get to walk the red carpet, I have my picture in the hall of fame. You work towards all these things. When you go out to promote a film, people are waiting for you, people like to write about you – these are the perks of being the actor! Also, the clothes, shoes – I love all of that (smiles). But the best part is being on a film set. I love it!

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