Huma Qureshi who climbed the ladder of success with Gangs of Wasseypur likes to deliver something different always. From Ek Thi Daayan to Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, the actress has played different roles and now she was seen combating and kicking some bad guys as a spy in the action thriller D-Day.
How did you prepare for the role of a spy?
Nikhil obviously helped me a lot. He gave me a lot of insights about the role. We also met a lot of ex-RAW agents and tried to understand their functionality and how they think. The most important part of the role, was to consider these agents as normal people who are patriots going through difficult conditions where difficult choices had to be made.
Tell us something about your character Zoyaâ€¦
Zoya is an Indian Muslim living in Bradford. She is an explosive expert. However, since she can’t reveal her true identity in public, she works undercover as an immigration lawyer. Zoya is in a relationship but when it comes to her career it becomes quite difficult to deal with situations because of her secret identity. She makes a lot of sacrifices for being on this mission of getting back India’s most wanted man. Being the only woman on a mission, how she deals with the pressure, how she proves to be an asset in a man’s world is what makes Zoya so interesting.
How different is Zoya from a Hollywood spy?
Zoya is a real spy. I have tried to play her as realistically as possible, to the best of my understanding. Normally in Bollywood or Hollywood, a spy is very good looking, ripped, someone who stands out in a crowd. However, in actual reality, when we spoke to the RAW agent, he told us that they are very average looking people. One wouldn’t give them a second glance in a crowd. I think that is the main point of being a spy. They are someone who can blend in, unnoticed. Because if a spy stands out, people would start noticing their presence around.
Can you relate to Zoya at a personal level?
All of us have ambitions and goals. As a spy you too you have a different set of aspirations. It’s just that being a spy, they have interests and gains which are much beyond a personal motive. As far as, relating to her is concerned, I can relate to all my characters because there is a bit of me in all of them. Though it’s been written and directed by someone else, she is someone I can understand and have a conversation with.
Why did you choose Zoya over Suraiya?
Although Suraiya is a very powerful character, her character is a little emotional. However, when it comes to Zoya she is emotional, yet I got to do a lot of action. I always wanted to do a film where I wanted to throw some punches.
How did you train for action sequences?
We did a two month workshop with Tom Struthers who taught me from scratch – from how to hold a gun to how to reload it and how to do a hand to hand combat, how to kick some bad guys and all of that.
You chose a complete action oriented role. How stressful was it?
I don’t enjoy hand to hand combat. It is too taxing and too difficult. Moreover, the weather was too hot. I also broke some nails (laughs). Yet it was great fun. It’s all about timing when it comes to doing stunts. Also, it was new experience for me as I have never done an action movie before. I did enjoy it but the next time I do an action film I will surely think about it.
So you wouldn’t want to do some more action oriented role in the future?
I love watching action. But doing action is too difficult. Only if a film as interesting as D-Day comes my way, then I’ll think about it but till then I think I’ll stay away from action. Acting and making a film, in itself has so much pressure and to add on to it, the physical training in such weather conditions is too much. Moreover, I had the pressure of getting it right; because one wrong move of mine affects the synchronization of other actors and the whole shot gets kharab. And I hate ruining a shot.
How was it working with Irrfan, Rishi, Arjun and Shruti?
I am a huge fan of Irrfan. I think he was exceptional in Paan Singh Tomar. What an actor! Whether it’s Life of Pi or Maqbool, he just breathes so much life into a character. He is so enigmatic. There is also something very mysterious about him. Rishi Kapoor is so much fun to work with and a dedicated actor. I love his stories and anecdotes. There is never a dull moment when he is around. Arjun is one of the best looking and fit men we have in the country. He is fun actor to work with who always has a wise cracker. As far as, Shruti is concerned, I didn’t have any scenes with her. She is a lovely girl, very talented and pretty.
How do you deal with the rising expectations that are attached to your roles?
I don’t take unnecessary pressure. There is already enough of pressure already. Phaltu ka pressure main nahi le sakti. It’s been a great experience till now. I am just enjoying each day as it goes.
Your take on catfights and rumorsâ€¦.
I think the concept of catfights exists because people love listening about it. People like when heroines are fighting over stupid hair and make-up. They think actresses are vain dumb people who have nothing else to do apart from fighting over hair, make-up and boyfriends. But that is not true. There are some really intelligent women in the industry who are beautiful and sexy actresses, who are great to hang out with. While I do accept that most of the catfights are rumours, some may be true too! But it’s not only women who fight over petty issues, even men do. It’s just that people prefer catfights over men combats. As far as rumours are concerned, I don’t deal with them because they are not meant to be dealt with it. And as, Emraan rightly put it ‘If people are talking about you, that means you are interesting. So enjoy it.’