INTERVIEW | 'I still face rejections', says 'Double XL'-star Huma Qureshi
Huma Qureshi speaks to Shama Bhagat about acting in and bankrolling a film on body shaming and surviving a decade in Bollywood as an outsider
Published: 13th November 2022 05:00 AM | Last Updated: 12th November 2022 02:58 PM | A+A A-
Tell us about your new film Double XL, which deals with the subject of body shaming. What made you choose this project, not just as an actor, but also as a debut producer?
Somebody had to talk about body shaming. As an artist I want to do good work, and produce films for the family audience where they can laugh a little and cry a little. For Double XL, I put on 20 kg.
I did the film because I want women to stop obsessing about their weight and be confident.
What led you and your brother, Saqib Saleem, to start your own production house, Elemen3?
There are three of us at Elemen3. Screenwriter and director Mudassar (Aziz) is also part of the company. There is no hierarchy between the three of us. For us, no work is big or small. This is something that I learnt from my father, who started a restaurant business on his own. He had not inherited anything. I remember, once when the workers went on strike, my father just rolled up his sleeves and started doing the dishes himself. He taught us to be independent.
You seem to be one of those few who have never complained about being an outsider.
Who does not face struggle or grief? I still face rejections and that’s a part of life. I think most of us face rejections in one form or the other. I know I sound old-school, but I believe in karma. At times things don’t work; sometimes the scales are up and sometimes down, but keep working hard, and success will be yours.
How has your approach towards choosing projects evolved over the years?
I had a mind shift in the last two years. I realised I should not question my choices. Maharani (web series) changed things for me and I decided to go with the flow. Earlier I used to evaluate everything, but now I just try having fun with every project. If I like the script, production house and director,
I grab the work.
It’s been a decade since you debuted in Bollywood with Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, and you have come a long way. You have multiple films lined up, from Monica O My Darling to Tarla Dala’s biopic.
It took me time to reach this position. There was a lot of learning regarding my craft. Now that I have become a producer, I am also learning more about the business side of things. I am in a good phase.
What would you like to advise youngsters who want to make their career here?
Be your individual self. There is no substitute for education and learning. I completed History honours as my parents were particular that I have a degree in my hand for something to fall back on. Now
I realise my qualification has helped me understand things better. There is awareness of what I am learning.
We have heard that you are writing a superhero story. Tell us more.
I had free time on my hands during the pandemic. I had written a few notes on which
I wanted to make a Television series. But since it’s a fantasy story, there will be a lot of graphic work, hence the budget has to be huge. No one will invest so much money on my vision right now. I met a few people who work on graphic novels, but it didn’t move forward. So I decided to complete the story and get it published. I sent my idea to publishers and eventually HarperCollins agreed. The book will be out soon.
Actors these days are also associated with businesses. Do you ever plan to take over your family’s restaurant business?
That is dad’s business. He will be completing almost 50 years. His will be among the oldest restaurant businesses in the country. That is my father’s legacy. Filmmaking is my business now. Acting is my plan; nothing more than that.