It's not every day that we get to see a popular Bollywood actor come down South to do a film. Huma Qureshi, who’s done that with Kaala, was originally to make her debut with Ajith's Billa II, but on account of shooting delays, she had to leave the project to focus on her other film, the super-successful Gangs of Wasseypur. Six years later, she has returned to Tamil cinema with Kaala, and won heaps of laurels for her efforts.
Excerpts from the conversation below
What’s it like to make your South debut in a Rajinikanth film?
I feel excited and blessed. Right before the release, I had butterflies in my stomach. I want everyone to watch Kaala and enjoy it. We have all put in a lot of hard work, and poured in our blood, sweat, and tears for this project. I hope the story leaves the audience touched.
Did you already have plans to make your Tamil debut, or did Kaala convince you?
I don't know if there was a plan but I was not averse to doing a regional film. I always believe though that the script is the final authority. Kaala happened because it was the right script at the right time. I absolutely fell in love with it. I'm glad and proud that Kaala is my debut Tamil film.
How did it happen?
Dhanush and I are good friends, and it was he who called me. I assumed it was for a film starring him as that's something we had spoken about several times. But he told me that it was something he was producing and that it's a big project. That's when I got to know about Kaala. I got so excited by the script that I flew down and met director Pa Ranjith sir for the narration.
What did you make of your character, Zareena?
She has a lot of shades to her, and there's a whole journey that Kaala and Zareena undertake right from their 20s to their 50s. I was impressed with her and the journey she undergoes. I'm happy to play a character who isn't a cardboard cutout. She’s a strong woman of today who is very real. How it's shown is beautiful and people who have watched it will understanding how amazing it is.
Any difficulties with the local language?
My character, Zareena, is a Tamil-Muslim girl, even if I don't understand the language. So yes, I had to do a lot of preparation for the role. I got a lot of help from Jenny (Associate Director) who helped me with my lines. I couldn't have pulled it off without her. And of course, there's Ranjith sir's writing and direction, and if I can say it, a little bit of my acting ability too.
Anurag Kashyap, the director of your first film -- Gangs of Wasseypur, is also working in a Tamil film (Imaikka Nodigal) now. How do you see see this trend of geographical and linguistic barriers being broken?
I'm glad that he is doing a Tamil film. More and more people should work on films across languages. Language is no barrier to doing good work. I always chase good scripts; so no restriction has ever stopped me from pursuing a promising film.
Should we expect to see you a lot more in Tamil cinema?
Hopefully. I made a brave choice to make my debut in Tamil by playing Zareena. I hope that my performance gets received well and people appreciate it.