‘I’ve got the opportunity I’ve been waiting my whole life’

‘So let’s have fun with it. Let’s do something that nobody is expecting.’

Huma Qureshi wants to sleep.

But her resurgent career just won’t let her.

The actor, who will be seen in the second season of the Web series Maharani , which streams from August 25, has just spent the day giving back-to-back interviews, but her smile does not waver and her make-up stays immaculate.

Still, she craves for sleep, something she just doesn’t get to do as much as she would like to.

“I have to look good for a project, shoot for another and promote the third, so it’s exhausting. But I really enjoy being on a film set, and act. So if I have to do a few other things that I don’t entirely love it, but if it’s allowing me to be an actor on a film set, I’ll take that any day,” Huma tells Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com.

The first of a multi-part lively conversation:

How exciting is it to step into the shoes of Maharani‘s Rani Bharti once again?

It’s exciting because it’s been loved.

That’s why we are making season two, right? So clearly something has worked.

But it’s also like, I’ve done this and there’s nothing new I can do.

I think the magic lies in how I create the essence of that character and still build on it enough to make it exciting for people.

Is there any pressure when you are the face of a Web series? Because it’s different when you are part of an ensemble cast and when you are carrying it on your shoulders.

I started my career with Gangs Of Wasseypur, you can’t get a bigger ensemble film than that. It had some 500 actors in it, all debuting (laughs).

Ensemble films have never scared me.

But I don’t take the pressure (of being the face of a show) because pressure leke kuch hota nahin hai.

It is the most futile thing.

But I am acutely aware of the responsibility on my shoulders.

I’m acutely aware that I have to deliver, that there are a lot of expectations.

But that responsibility gives me a lot of joy and freedom, surprisingly.

When I’m doing a role or choosing my projects, I’m not operating from fear, ki arrey, agar nahin chala toh?

Instead, I’m operating from, maza ayega, na? Kuch naya karte.

Now, I’ve got the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for my whole life, so let’s have fun with it. Let’s do something that nobody is expecting.

That will open new doors as well.

Well, that only time will tell.

As actors, we have dream paths or dream roles or dream situations to be in…

My mindset is not, oh f*** what if I don’t get it?

My mindset is, this is my moment and I’m going to show them what I can do.

What’s the one thing you would do if you became chief minister, of say Maharashtra?

Focus more on the environment.

Reduce plastic.

Do more on child education, child rights and women’s safety.

Women’s safety in this state, actually, is quite remarkable.

You were among the first to take up an OTT project, Deepa Mehta’s Leila, in 2019. How much did OTT change your career?

A lot of people advised me against it.

They said, don’t do OTT because people will think ‘picture nahin hain‘, that it’s a step down.

But I was like, I’m watching so much international content and they’re all doing so well.

Plus, it’s a great story. It’s a great maker.

I really resonate with it, so let’s go ahead with it.

I’m so grateful that I did it because the love that Leila has got over the years has been phenomenal.

It has empowered me as an actor because that was the first time I was leading a whole show — not a film, but a whole show.

The camera was literally on my face — on my eyeball! — throughout the duration.

It gives me the confidence that I can carry off a show.

I can lead it.

Deepa Mehta really empowered me as an actor, and she’s really close to me. I look up to her.

And I’m so happy today when I see other women leading shows, and they’re all doing so well.

I was the first girl in this country to be leading a female-centric show, and now they all are doing it, and it’s so cool.

We should be allowed to tell our stories.

We should be leading more projects.

That space should be allowed to us.

Humko bhi opportunity do, hum bhi kar sakte hain.

But how much did it help your career?

Well, (Director) Zack Snyder saw that show and I was cast for (the Hollywood film) Army Of The Dead.

Sometimes these opportunities happen very differently from how we think.

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