For Saqib Saleem, past one year was a mixed bag. While the postponement of 83 was heartbreaking, his two releases – Crackdown (Voot Select) and Comedy Couple (ZEE5) kept him in the limelight. From playing a RAW agent to a stand-up comedian, Saqib continues to experiment with characters.
Saqib, who plays the role of Mohinder Amarnath in Kabir Khan directorial 83, turns 33 today. In a recent chat with indianexpress.com, the actor reflected upon his work, challenge of donning different roles and how 2020 changed him.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
When 83 was postponed, did you feel disappointed?
I’ll be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, because we worked on it really passionately for a year and a half. As a team, we were really excited about the film. When the news came out of coronavirus and the lockdown, it was heartbreaking. But within the next one week I realised we have a bigger problem at hand. One has to just keep working.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting into the role of Mohinder Amarnath?
To imbibe his personality and his aura, the fact that he’s such a calm human being that nothing in this world shakes him up. If I had to describe myself in one word, I would say I am volatile. I keep running around, doing ten things. So, to get that personality trait which I don’t have, was the tricky part. I genuinely didn’t want to mimic him. I have come across so many facets of his personality. To become that took a good four or five months of everyday rehearsals, cricket, physical training, trying to get the look right, to lose all the muscle and become skinny. Everyday you wake up with a certain bit of responsibility of coming closer to the character, who everybody knows about. It took a while before we started shooting, so thankfully we had time. It’s been the best film I’ve ever shot in my life. I can’t wait for things to normalise because I really want people to see 83. It’s a special film.
Was 2020 a difficult phase for you?
Hundred per cent. I don’t know about other actors, but I was very irritated as to what I was doing with my time. You’re waking up to no purpose in life. Thankfully Comedy Couple came my way that gave me some sort of a direction. I feel like better things are in store in future. I’m an optimistic guy.
Did the last one year change you in any way?
In my profession, you are always comparing yourself with others, as a result you stop enjoying what you do. I want to be the best version of myself. And for that, I don’t need validation from anybody. Being confined to myself in my house gave me a lot more clarity about the kind of things I want to do in my life. It was a nice introspective time.
Is digital space being kinder to you than films?
I’ve always gotten love. The only time I got a lot of flak was for Race 3. Beyond that, people have always been kind to me. I’ve realised in the last three-four years that I really enjoy acting, so now I don’t care if my film releases in the theatres or on the digital platform. I’m working with different kinds of makers, with a lot of new people. These new people are so invested and motivated in life, it’s infectious when you work with them. So it’s a very exciting phase for me.