She has played a variety of roles, from the hard-to-get Mohsina Hamid in Gangs of Wasseypur to a ‘daayan’ in Ek Thi Daayan to an interpreter in the British production Viceroy’s House. Now get spooked in her psychological thriller Dobaara: See Your Evil, in which she plays sibling to her real brother Saqib Saleem. We catch up with Huma who regales us about her reel and real brother Saqib, her film Dobaara, and her love for food!
1)Had you watched Oculus, the original Hollywood film when you were offered its adaptation, Dobaara: See Your Evil?
No I had not see Oculus, but my brother Saqib had. I watched it after I was offered Dobaara. The film, a supernatural psychological thriller about a brother and sister who lost their parents in a violent episodes when children, and how they try to solve the puzzle when older, really spooked me! At the same time I found it very interesting.
2)Did the fact that your brother Saqib was offered the role of your brother in the film, an added attraction?
Yes, because even in the American version the lead actors were not brother and sister. So the idea that the Hindi version would have that, was very cool.
3)How different is the adaptation from the original?
The premise of the Hindi version is the same as the English version about a brother and sister and an incident which happens when they were young and how each has a different take on it. But it is not a copy and paste version. The emotions are more Indian as is the relation between children and parents. Some new characters have been introduced and the end is not the same. The best part is that Dobaara: See Your Evil is very unlike Hindi horror films which one cannot watch with the family. But one can watch Dobaara with the family like one used to watch Zee horror shows. It has thrills and is spooky minus adult content.
4)How is your relationship with Saqib in real life?
Being older than him I used to harass him a lot when young. Like if he hit me I would pretend to die, you know fall and just lie still and he would get scared that he had killed me. I used to get a kick out of it. I also used to break things and blame him when my parents asked me!
5)And now, when you were working together for the first time on a film?
On the set I was very protective about him. I would constantly be asking him if he had had his food, whether everything was fine and all that. So much so many a time he would ask me to back off! But as actors there was a comfort level. We may not look similar but our reactions are very similar. And it’s good to know your costar’s reactions. Also you can be very free, unlike with other costars where you have to be careful what you say and do!
6)Do you believe in the supernatural?
I have never seen a ghost but I definitely believe in God.
7)In the film Adil Hussain plays your father and Lisa Ray your mother. How was it working with them?
I was thrilled to work with both of them. Adil because of his acting prowess and you get to learn so much from him. Lisa because of her exemplary fight with cancer. She is such a fine person and full of positive energy.
8)Now that you have played a variety of roles, what is next on your wish list?
I would like to do a slapstick comedy, a biopic, a historical film, the list is endless. Actors are very greedy, so I would like to do all types of films. My wish list for co-actors is also very long. I have done very few films till now because I am choosy so I have a long list of directors and co-actors as well.
9)What kind of films are you looking at now?
I don’t want to be number one but I want to do good work. A good script or something I have never attempted before, attracts me. Like I wanted to do Viceroy’s House because I had not done an English film before and Dobaara because it was a psychological thriller.
10)You come from a family of restaurateurs and food has always been a passion. But now, one can make out from your social media posts that you are looking at food in a new way.
True, I am looking at food in a new way! Like dieting does not mean starving oneself but eating right. Like I make pizzas at home with different flours, like cauliflower flour! We women have so many insecurities because we cannot look like these air brushed models. So now I am in a position to tell everyone that you can be healthy and fit without starving. Now I look at food in a more holistic way!
11)Would you like to do more Hollywood films after Viceroy’s House?
I never went looking for an English film. Viceroy’s House came to me when Gurinder Chadha approached me. I want to do more work in India as it is something I have grown up on. But if I am approached for another English film and I like the script, why not?
Interviewed By: Arti Saxena