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Verve People
November 29, 2017

“To Be Honest, I Didn’t Want To Be An Actor Till I Got My First Film”

Text by Zaral Shah. Photograph by Toranj Kayvon. Styled By Karuna Laungani. Make-Up By Sonic Sarwate, Mac Cosmetics. Hair By Sukhvinder Karoti (Ricky), Akreations Hair And Beyond. Location courtesy: Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla

The protean actor talks about his time in the world of entertainment and what revs up the excitement for him as a performer

He’s versatile, witty, carries with him a palpable energy, and isn’t afraid to stare the camera in the eye. An ardent cricket fan, and a self-confessed foodie, gym freak and a ‘brat’, Saqib Saleem enjoys challenging himself when at work, something that is reflected in his filmography. Ask him if he has a wish list of directors, and a knowing smile instantly greets you. While Rajkumar Hirani is one he’d play even a tree for, Abhishek Chaubey, Shakun Batra, Navdeep Singh and, of course, Aditya Chopra are not too far behind on the log.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to be an actor till I got my first film. I think the industry chose me; it wasn’t like I chose films. I had no acting background, but once it happened, I sailed through and decided that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

“I started enjoying the process of trying to be different people on screen. I asked myself what was the point in doing the same thing over and over again. I had to do something that challenged me every day. So, now when I feel that a role will be difficult, and that I might not be able to pull it off, I want to do it. Be it Hawaa Hawaai, Bombay Talkies or any of my projects, I’ve tried to do something new each time, for myself, not for the people.”

“I would love to do a biopic. I think it is the real test for an actor. Usually, when we play reel persona, we are creating those characters. They are fictional, we can make them do whatever we feel like and there, the acting is very subjective. But when you are doing a biopic, you have an actual person who you are trying to play and so you have to stay true to that person and also add something of your own to that character.”

“I don’t know if I’ve nailed a fashion experiment or not but I initially found it really weird to be wearing cropped pants. They’re over and above your ankle, and I was very uncomfortable, but on the insistence of my stylist I did try and started liking their fit. I think they look cool if they’re well-fitted and the right length. But I still don’t understand the logic behind skinny jeans, I still can’t wear them.”

“I have a lovely dog called Streak, and on an off-day I enjoy spending time with him. If I’m not playing with Streak or giving him a bath or something else, then I am on my PlayStation. I have a bunch of friends who I have grown up with, and they are still my best friends. All of us hang out if I am not working and if they are free too. I’m on a Netflix binge these days and have seen probably everything that’s on it. And, I eat a lot. I love eating and working out.”

“My favourite cuisine is Indian. I am a desi, I love Indian food. My sister Huma (Qureshi) and me, we come from a food family. Our dad owns restaurants in Delhi, which serve Mughlai cuisine. We have grown up eating hardcore mutton nihari, brain masala, chicken curries and biryani…. I love sushi, Italian and Thai food, but if I am really hungry, I just want some Indian food.”

“My bucket list is to have a bachelor’s party in Amsterdam, and to make a film like Entourage here — I’m going to write it and cast all my best friends in it. I also want to own a bungalow at Worli Sea Face — the waterfront will be beautiful to wake up to. I just made this list. I’ve never had one. But now that I’ve made it, I better follow it!”

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