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Verve Man
July 23, 2015

Drama Kings: Hussain Dalal

Text by Huzan Tata. Photographs By Tejal Pandey. Conceptualised by Ashima Gupta. Styling by Chandni Bahri

Hussain Dalal talks about his inspirations as a writer and actor

You’d have seen him as a stammering stand-up comedian in a coffee ad, as Kalki Koechlin’s handicapped buddy in Margarita, with a Straw (MWAS), or maybe even as the cunning caterer in All India Bakchod’s Honest Indian Weddings video. From his various acting stints on stage and screen to writing dialogues for films like 2 States and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD), it is evident that there is no one box into which Hussain Dalal’s talents can be slotted. The young actor, who started his career on stage as a substitute in a children’s play at Prithvi Theatre, has since dabbled in various media, and is raring to roll on. Says the youngster, “What I enjoy the most is the fact that I can do all these things. So that’s my focus — doing it all.” And of his first acting stint, he expresses, “The truly magical moments of your life are those that blow you away.

My first performance was one of those — so beautiful that I can’t cage it in words.”

Dalal, who currently features in the plays Government Inspector and Internal Affairs and is looking forward to Rage Productions’ One On One — Season 2, looks up to theatre veteran Akarsh Khurana. “He’s one of the most important people in my theatre life — he is my mentor and my teacher. I’ve learnt and am learning so much from him. I love working with him,” Dalal confesses. For it was a role in Khurana’s Akvarious Productions’ Afsaneh: Bai Se Bioscope Tak that won Dalal his first nomination for best actor in a supporting role at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) in 2009. On other inspirations, he says, “I love all the people I can learn from and be slightly insecure of, so that I can up my game!”

And among all the roles that Dalal has played on stage and the big screen, it’s his character Dhruv in MWAS that’s most special to the young actor. “I was very excited. It’s the toughest role I’ve done. But the producers, Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar, are such wonderful people that they held my hand and helped me through the course of shooting, and so did Kalki. It was perhaps the most fulfilling acting job I’ve ever done.”

Though acting was something Dalal dreamed of doing for years, writing was “luck by chance”. “I never thought I’d write. Akarsh and Ali Fazal (actor) pushed me towards it. Bunny from YJHD is the character that’s closest to my heart — there’s so much of me in him and the role was played by a fantastic actor (Ranbir Kapoor). So he made my writing seem better than it was, really,” he explains.

When he’s not rehearsing, acting or writing, one can catch Dalal playing or watching football, hanging out with his family or friends (categorised into childhood, theatre and film buddies), travelling or shopping. Ask him about his take on relationships and the 26-year-old says, “Love, art or life are things that just happen organically…so I let them happen.”

On that one dream role, the lad philosophises, much like the character Bunny, “I think I’ll leave it to fate. Dream roles happen. Like love, they can’t be planned.” For now, Dalal is in a happy space doing what he loves, and isn’t looking for a change. “If I wasn’t an actor or writer, I’d still be trying to be one or the other. I couldn’t have been anything else. I don’t know another life,” he concludes.

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