Huma Qureshi on working with Hollywood filmmaker Zack Snyder, her toughest role so far, and her love for pakodas
Huma Qureshi is among the most dependable actresses in India who effortlessly slips into varied roles and delivers unforgettable performances. Whether it was her debut role as Mohsina Hamid in Gangs of Wasseypur, Muniya in Dedh Ishqiya or Zareena in the Rajnikanthstarrer Kaala, the actress has always picked roles that resonate with the audience.
“I chose to become an actor because it’s exciting. I wanted to keep that child-like feeling alive in me,” she says. Today, Huma has evolved as one of the most seasoned actresses in the industry. She impressed the audience with her portrayal of Shalini (in Leila), a formidable mother who is attempting to save her child from a fascist government. “Shooting for Leila was very difficult. It was like shooting three films at one go. The material was challenging. But it was very gratifying because I got to work with some really great minds. It did take a big emotional and mental toll on me, but I really enjoyed it. I would be exhausted after every scene, and every day was like physical and mental torture. But it was such a beautiful story, I had to be a part of it,” she confesses.
With this kind of body of work, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the actress bagged a role in American director Zack Snyder’s upcoming zombie film Army of the Dead. Huma, who has just wrapped up shooting for her Hollywood debut, is tight-lipped about it. However, she shares her experience of shooting for the film, “Their planning was in great detail, particularly the action scenes and that’s what I enjoyed about shooting with the team. I am obsessed with nittygritties, and I like it when people are organised. Working with Zack and his team was a great learning for me.”
Before the actress forayed into films, Huma was popular in Delhi because of Saleem’s, the iconic restaurant run by her father Saleem Qureshi. Both the actress and her brother, actor Saqib Saleem, grew up in an environment where hospitality was of prime importance. “I am grateful to everyone who says wonderful things about Saleem’s. My father started it in 1977. He always believed in making and serving good food, and he continues to do that. I met chef Vikas Khanna recently at a shoot, and he said my family has contributed in taking forward the food tradition of this country and it just brought tears to my eyes,” reveals Huma.
Talking about her brother Saqib, the actress says, “We fight a lot but we also discuss films and work. I am very excited about his upcoming release, 83. It’s going to be a very special film. As a proud sister and as a cricket lover, I am dying to watch the film,” she says. On the work front Huma will be working next in Dibakar Banerjee’s film Freedom, and there are reports that she might be actor Ajith Kumar's leading lady in the upcoming Tamil film Valimai.
What’s your next goal in life?
I want to start journaling every morning as soon as I wake up. It may sound very silly, but I want to make this a habit. Also, I want to read four books every month.
What’s on your playlist right now?
I am listening to two podcasts, Oprah’s Soulful Conversations and The Tim Ferriss Show. I am a big follower of self-help and motivational speakers.
What is your go-to drink?
Black coffee with no sugar. Your wardrobe essentials… Pyjamas, hoodies and boots. I prefer anything in white for summer. I love a white salwar kameez, it’s the most comfortable thing to wear this season.
What’s your style statement?
Must-checklist before going on camera?
I just call Ajay, my make-up artist, to check my face. Honestly, I hate looking in the mirror. I can’t spend more than 20 minutes doing my make-up, but till Ajay isn’t happy, he won’t let me face the camera.
What do you do during your downtime?
I sleep... I can’t sleep for more than four hours at night. So I love taking naps whenever I can.
What does your fitness routine look like?
I do a mix of functional training and pilates.
What’s your comfort food?
I love anything that’s fried. I love pakodas.