He started off as a model, before getting bitten by the acting bug. Actor Saqib Saleem turns 29 today, and on the occasion of his birthday, we engaged in an exclusive conversation with him. He spoke about his upcoming projects, the coveted National Awards, nepotism and of course, his birthday plans.
You have a movie called as ‘Dobaara’ with your sister Huma Qureshi which is releasing on May 19. How was the experience?
It was like working with any other actor because we are both very competitive actors. I worked with her as a professional and I tried to not get the whole sibling space on set that much because the relationship we share in the film is completely opposite of what we are in real life. But, it was an interesting shoot for me because I got to observe her from very close.
Do you both share any acting tips with each other, since you both are from the same industry?
No acting tips as such but me and Huma have a very funny thing that as actors we would never tell each other what to do, but we will pinpoint at the bad scenes of each other and laugh over them when at home. So, we like to be very critical of each other’s work and we poke fun of each other a lot. But, while shooting for the movie, we were both in our spaces .
After playing the role of a cricketer in ‘Dishoom’, any other sport you would like to explore in your upcoming movies?
I have been fortunate enough to get two sport-oriented films in my film career. I’m also a sportsman in real life, I love to play sports, so give me any sport, whether it’s football, basketball, golf, I would love to play a sport in a movie. But, I don’t select my movies on the basis of a sport in a movie. But, if it’s done well, sports film is a genre I really enjoy watching.
Considering the fact that you don’t belong to a star family, how difficult was it for you to get your first break in the industry?
I’m a very proud son of my father Mohammad Salim Qureshi and I don’t think being a star son or anything else has anything to do with it in today’s day and age. Being a star son, you might get your first film but if the film doesn’t work, nobody is wanting to give you work. There is so much competition that you always have to bring your A-game to the table. You can’t just rely on the fact that you’re a star kid. You have to prove your mettle on that Friday when your film releases and it has to become successful for you to get another good big film. That’s how it works, there’s nothing to do with being a star kid or being an outsider. Yes, of course, you do get access being a star kid but, you can’t force them for being born where they are born. It’s not their mistake if their father is a director, producer or an actor.
You have shared screen space with Akshay Kumar in ‘Dishoom’. He won a National Award today for Rustom. What would you like to say on that?
I’m very happy because Akshay Kumar is one of my most favourite actors. In fact, he is my childhood hero in a way. So, I’m very happy that he has won a National Award. It’s very well-deserved and whenever I meet him, I tell him, “Sir, I love the kind of films you do, because you’re just doing such content driven stories that need to be told on celluloid.”
Do you believe in the credibility of awards?
If I’m getting an award, then I believe the award organisers are credible enough.
Any specific biopic you would want to work in?
I don’t know, I have never thought about it but there are so many interesting people that we have had in our country and worldwide. There are so many sportsmen, businessmen that you can make biopics on. But, if you want me to pinpoint on something then I can’t. There’s nothing like I want to play this person onscreen, I want to do a story. If the story is compelling enough, I just want to be a part of it. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a biopic. It’s the story that rules my system.
Any wish-list of directors you would want to collaborate with?
Rajkumar Hirani. He is the best director in the country, I love his films. Then, there is Sriram Raghavan, he is a fabulous director. I really loved ‘Ek Hasina Thi’, ‘Badlapur’, all the films that he has made.
Aamir Khan recently said that he will not release his film in Pakistan, as they wanted the national anthem to be cut. What do you have to say on this?
That is between the Government of India and Pakistan. What I say will not make any difference. I believe that a film is a film in totality without cutting anything because if the film has been certified that is what is important. Why do you have to cut anything? Why in our country are we chopping out scenes, we should just certify films, that this is an adult film for a certain age group. Till when will we tell people that you can’t watch this? Let people decide what they want to watch.
Can you tell us something about your upcoming projects?
I have a film called as ‘Makhna’ that stars Taapsee Pannu and me which is produced by Pooja Films. It should come out in the mid of this year.
Lastly, it’s your birthday today, so what plans?
I will be spending the day with my family, as I haven’t spent time with them since a long time. We will have a little celebration at home.