Huma Qureshi isn’t living in a bubble, and knows exactly what she yearns for as an actor. She wants to be recognised for her quality of work, not by the quantity. As simple it may sound, it takes a lot to say no to lucrative offers that can get you exposure and remuneration, too. But the Bollywood actor, it seems, is ready for all those challenges. Not part of any rat race, Huma wants to balance between, “looking good beside the hero” and also “remembered for substantial roles”. Excerpts:
After Gurinder Chadha, you’re now collaborating with Deepa Mehta. Are you focusing more on international projects?
Now I need to just work with Mira Nair and complete the trinity (laughs). Well, I’m only focusing on good work. I’m known to be a little choosy, and I’m proud of it. Work needs to be exciting enough to take someone as lazy as me out of my home. I want to be inspired when I’m working and for that, I can go wherever it takes me.
Would you be okay doing regional cinema, too, if there’s nothing substantial coming from Bollywood?
Why not? Regional space is quite exciting right now. Hindi cinema is remaking a number of regional films. And regional films aren’t just successful in their own territory but pan India as well. The advantage is that their story is so specific to the people and culture that they become universal. Like my favourite [Spanish] filmmaker Luis Bunel had said ‘When you tell a story so specific, it becomes universal’. You narrate the story of a dalit boy in a far flung village, his aspirations and troubles, it instantly connects with people.
But does this wait for the right offer also mean letting go of opportunities?
Humara desh mein wasie hi ladkiyon ke liye bahut kam acche roles likhe jate hain. Most of the times they’re supposed to look next to the hero. I think there are actresses, who are big stars and their entire life is about doing that. They aren’t keen on trying something out-of-the-box and these are the stars who are celebrated. I’m not judging them… I can also do [those roles], but can’t do that just. It’s harder to swim against the tide, might even be foolish. But I think I’d like to strike a balance of both. I want to be known, loved and remembered for the roles that I’ve done and recognised as someone who tried something different.
So you’re clearly not running any rat race?
I can’t compete with really big stars. I’m not a big star; I’m just an actor who came from Delhi to pursue her passion. I’ve never been in any competition and just trying to do my work in the best of my ability. I want my work to reach out to as many people, in that sense my journey has just begun. Also, I don’t understand A leagues or B leagues of actors that are often spoken about, yeh hota kya hain, bus achha kam karo.