Saqib Saleem: I and my sister Huma (Qureshi) are extremely opinionated!

His first stint with fame arrived after working in Mujhse Fraandship Karoge ‘“ which turned out to be a sleeper hit, after which he created quite a furore with his sensual kiss with Randeep Hooda in Bombay Talkies.

His first stint with fame arrived after working in Mujhse Fraandship Karoge – which turned out to be a sleeper hit, after which he created quite a furore with his sensual kiss with Randeep Hooda in Bombay Talkies. The actor has a good head on his shoulders. And he doesn’t just watch films; looks like he also does his share of reading different kind of books. As I enter the room to interview him, settle myself on the seat, rest the book I had been reading on the table; his eyes instantly shift to the bright paperback… “Aaah, biography of Usain Bolt, I’ve read it, it’s interesting,” he says with that typical glint in his eyes which every book lover possesses.

The actor starts off without wasting much time about his next film Hawaa Hawaai, directed by Amol Gupte. “The movie’s got great content and I always opt for good content,” he declares.

Saqib plays a coach in the film, and he explains in his own refreshing, easy-breezy style about how it was working with the director of Stanley Ka Dabba . And man! he can chatter away to glory or what! . Here’s Mr Saleem talking up a storm about movies, his sister Huma Qureshi and a li’l bit of ‘yaha-waha ka gyaan’…Read on!

Tell us something about your character in Hawaa Hawaai…

I play a skating coach in the film. My character is called Lucky Bhargav. As a coach, I had to learn the terminology of the sport. Since kids can ask you anything, I had to learn everything related to skating. Amol sir made me meet some national level coaches, made me communicate with them, so that I get a hang of my character and look convincing on screen. And Lucky is not a stereotypical coach who scolds children…he’s more of a mentor, an elder brother, the kind of guy you can sit and chat about everything under the sun.

Did you feel any pressure of living up to Amol’s expectations?

Amol sir is one of the most chilled out guy I’ve ever met. When he’s talking to me, he communicates in a different way, when he’s talking to the kids; he speaks on a different level. Since we had a small crew, we tried to be as amicable as possible with everyone. About the pressure part, I usually don’t think much, if I thought so much, I wouldn’t have been in the industry today.

What was your skating coaching like, did you topple and fall flat on your face?

Well, inline skating is definitely not easy. I fell a lot of times. It used to take a lot of time to reach from one point to the other. I used to be like ‘shit these kids are laughing at me’. It did take a while, and I trained for almost a month. I am not skating much in the movie though; I just had to learn the sport to understand the body language and all that jazz.

Even SRK played a coach in Chak De; obviously comparisons are going to be drawn, are you worried?

I would be more than happy if people compare me to Shahrukh Khan. He’s a phenomenal actor; everyone aspires to be like him. But I would like to say that I am not inspired by anyone to play the role of a coach, this is completely my own interpretation. It will be great if there are no comparisons, and even if there is, I have absolutely no issues.

Okay maybe not an onscreen coach, but anyone in real life, who you have known while playing sports in school or college, has inspired you in any way?

I was being coached by an Indian cricketer called Chetan Sharma. I always looked up to him. The best part about him was that he always played a sport as a sport, and he never treated it like some sort of a monotonous job. I want to do that with my career too. I want to be so passionate about my job that it doesn’t feel like I’ve worked a single day in my life.

How does it feel to have your sister Huma in the same fraternity?

I am lucky that I have my sister in the same industry. We are very opinionated people. Huma and I decided very early in our career that we are going to be each other’s fiercest critics. While it’s great to have people who appreciate you, it’s also important to have people who keep you grounded and tell you where you are going wrong.

What do you think one needs to have to sustain oneself in the industry?

I think talent, patience and luck are very important. You need to do the right kind of films too. And of course you need to be patient for what you want in life. I have been in the industry for 4 years…I am not in a hurry, I am okay waiting. And please don’t do ‘ganda kaam’. Even after 20 years when I look back, I want to be proud of my work. I am not here to earn money; if I wanted to do that I would have gone back and joined my dad’s business. Eventually you won’t be remembered for the award functions you attended or your appearances in the number of page 3 parties, you’ll be remembered ONLY for your films.

What is this ‘ganda kaam’ you are talking about exactly?

I am a brutally honest person, so I have to tell you this, there aren’t many great scripts written in Bollywood. And if someone is doing those films, they are probably doing it for the wrong reasons, may be for earning big bucks, or maybe because they are paired next to a certain person who’s going to help them give a boost to their career…it can be anything. But I don’t want to do that, I am okay with working with a new girl. Nothing is more important than a good script and a talented director. What’s the point of doing films that work over the weekends and then disappear into thin air; it makes sense to be a part of films that are going to be remembered forever.

What do you want to be, a star or an actor?

I would love to merge the two. And I want to be the best actor in the country. I feel that unless I don’t believe in myself, people won’t believe in me too. Of course I will also do commercial potboilers when necessary, but I also think I need to build myself as an actor first.

And who exactly do you consider your idols?

When I was growing up, I used to look up to two guys Shahrukh Khan and Akshay Kumar – because both are from Delhi. I used to do Judo when I was younger and at that time Akshay was the ultimate khiladi of Bollywood, so I used to be very inspired by him. When I entered college and started dating girls, I started idolizing Shahrukh Khan.

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