He was a cricketer but a small stint in modelling turned around his life opening the cinematic world. 28-year-old Saqib Saleem, who was recently shooting in Delhi for Makhna, talks to SANGEETA YADAV about his movie and studying in Hindu College
- How is Makhna shaping up?
It’s going great. It is just a tentative title of my next movie with Taapsee Pannu. It is a love story about two individuals who love each but are not meant for each other. It is an interesting take on a relationship. This is the first time I am shooting in my home city, Delhi.
- You recently visited Hindu College from where you graduated…
I went back after eight years to meet my teachers. Though a lot of things have changed over these years, the energy and the vibe is the same. Back in those days, there used to be a Nescafe stall and we used to spend a lot of time there. Now that has given way to another café. I visited the Virgin Tree and recalled how on every Valentine’s Day, we used to pray around it.
- What was the turning point in your life when you were studying in Hindu college?
I was a cricketer all my life and was the captain of my team at Hindu. Life turned when I walked the ramp for a friend in a fashion show and won the best model prize in Delhi University. I enjoyed it a lot. I did modeling and then acting happened and I eventually shifted to Mumbai to become an actor.
- Did you also have Hindu vs St Stephens in you?
Yes of course. It was always meant to be extremely competitive. We would never lose to a college bang opposite to us, we had to win. So was there case. When it comes to competitions, everybody would be fired to perform. We have a civil rivalry which was good and healthy. It never rubbed anybody the wrong way.
- How were college days?
The experiences this college has given me whether it’s been politics, modeling, acting, they have been great and have had amazing opportunities. Whatever I am today, I have learnt from this college. Degree doesn’t matter. It’s the experiences that matter. I had fabulous experience in Hindu. The atmosphere here creates a universal bond with other Hinduiites and your heart says — arrey yeh to mere college ka hai yaar.
- What life lesson you have learnt?
The most important thing this college teaches you is confident. Because it gives you so many opportunities, that even if you fail, you do stand up and take control. That gives you a sense of belief in oneself.
- What about acting?
I am not a trained actor. But I thoroughly enjoy it and there is something that happens within me when I performing. We don’t have to make acting sound like it is the most difficult thing in the planet. It’s just you need to be in the moment and I enjoy doing that.
- How was 2016 for Bollywood?
The year was good when it came to good content in movies. I really enjoyed watching a lot of films this year like Kapoor and Sons which I thought was brilliant. There was a very different comedy film called Happy Bhagg Jayegi. There have been different types of films that were fantastic like Neerja, Airlift and Pink. The good thing is every year, our standard of making content is improving and people are accepting new interesting content. Different kinds of films are making money as it is getting mass audience.
- How demonetisation has affected the industry?
To a certain extent, it has affected every people in the industry but I feel it’s a good initiative. Only its implementation would have been much better. The intention is correct and everyone should support and work towards the good intention rather than pulling everything down.
- Who was your favourite teacher?
I had a sports head named Hansu who I really love. He used to push us to give our best but took care of us like his own children. He is truly legend. He is well-built Jatt, speaks Haryanvi. Though his personality is such that you really think he is somebody who is cool, people get intimated by him. Another teacher is Anuradha Sharma, who also happens to be the mother of a very dear friend of mine.
- Have you got your sister Huma Qureshi to Hindu College?
Huma and I never come to Hindu College together. She must have come on her own sometime when I have not been there.
(The article also got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/acting-is-about-being-in-the-moment.html).