Saqib Saleem on Dil Juunglee co-star: 'Taapsee Pannu is the best co-star I've worked with'

Seema Sinha

Mar,09 2018 08:46:03 IST

Saqib Saleem’s previous release, Dobaara – See Your Evil (a remake of the supernatural/psychological horror Hollywood flick Oculus) may have been a box office dud but the actor has taken it in his stride and after doing a lot of  “introspection”, has moved on with the thought that he would “never repeat the same mistakes again”.

Saqib Saleem and Taapsee Pannu in a still from Dil Junglee. YouTube

Saqib Saleem and Taapsee Pannu in a still from Dil Junglee. YouTube

“I started off thinking that we are making a good and genuine horror film, the first of its kind in India where there is no sex as is usually seen in such films but somewhere during the process, we couldn’t create what we were imagining. Maybe we were under prepared and when I saw the film, I knew that it won’t work,” says Saqib, all geared up for his next release, Dil Juunglee opposite Taapsee Pannu whose career has seen an upward trend with back to back successes, both in Bollywood as well as in the south.

While calling Dil Juunglee “a fun, romantic buddy comedy” and an equivalent to Imran Khan-Genelia D’Souza starrer Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Saqib says that he is coming up with a happy film after a long time, “where no one is crying or dying”. “There’s no melodrama in the film. Also, there’s no sleaze or lust. There’s innocence of first love in the film. It's a love story at the end of it but you can’t discount the fun factor from the film — the madness and the jungleepan (wildness) amongst friends. It is also a coming-of-age story for every character because there is a leap in the film wherein people grow up and mature. It talks about the decision one took at 20-21 and how they evolve when they turn 27-28. We have also tried to keep this film real and contemporary so I am hopeful that audience will be able to connect with our film,” says the actor, who aims at doing more romantic films now.

"My last three films were serious but now I want to enjoy. We are the late 80s kids having grown up on masala entertainers. I have been into intelligent cinema which is very good but for the next four to five years, I just want to entertain people before I reach a point where I can push the envelope and do something which is completely outrageous," he says, further adding, "I feel after a long gap, I performed freely in this film. I have done action and sang songs. In my earlier films like Dishoom or Hawa Hawai, I wasn’t performing on songs but then this film’s offer came my way in which the main lead of the film wants to become an actor so I instantly agreed to do this film."

What particularly excited Saqib about Dil Juunglee is that inherent Delhi flavour as he calls himself a pucca Delhi boy. “When I read the script I felt this guy is me because I have lived this life. The protagonist Sumit Uppal is from Lajpat Nagar and I too grew up there. I am obsessed about going to the gym and he is shown as a gym trainer. He wants to become an actor and I am one. So I found lot of references from my own life and I felt that if I let anyone else do the film then I will be a fool. After Hawa Hawai and Dobaara, people have started seeing me in a serious light but I am not a serious guy. I am a filmy guy, I wanted to get back into the filmy space and enjoy my work,” says Saqib.

And Mere Dad Ki Maruti actor bonded big time with his Delhi-wali ‘girl friend’ Taapsee who he describes as normal, real, unpretentious and his best co-star so far. “She is not like, ‘I want my black coffee?' Or ‘It’s so hot and sunny today'. I had to keep reminding her that she was a star now and that she should start behaving like one. Taapsee handles her success really well. I had to tell her that her movies have done well, throw around some weight, throw some tantrums, tell the director that you will be coming two hours late. But she can’t do that. She would come half hour early whereas I would come late despite giving a flop (laughs). Between our music video and this film, there was a gap of one-and- a- half years and in that period, she saw a lot of success but that hasn’t changed her at all,” says Saqib.

He continues, “I am so happy for her that she is doing so well. Now she has got a Rs 100 crore movie in her kitty. But for me, Judwaa 2 is not her real success. Yes, the film is a success money-wise but for Taapsee, Pink and Naam Shabana are the real success because these films were riding on her shoulders. To pull of these films was a challenge for her. I tell this to Taapsee as well that had it been any other girl in Judwaa 2, the film would have still done the same number but if it was any other girl in Naam Shabana or Pink then the film wouldn’t have done those numbers. Taapsee brings her acting mettle to the table and not just glamour."

Saqib has a bigger reason to celebrate and that is bagging the action-thriller Race 3 that will hit the screens this Eid. Without disclosing much about his character, Saqib says that he gave it a nod as soon as Salman Khan offered him the role. “Race came out when I was in college and at that time, I’d never imagined that I would become an actor and that I would be acting in one of the biggest franchises. I have a very good role, it’s at par with everyone else in the film. I got to do high octane action for the first time. I'm so excited that I cut myself and still haven’t got my stitches removed. It has been a different experience to shoot a film of such scale. I’m the youngest in the team and it’s a great experience shooting with Anil Kapoor, Salman, Bobby (Deol), Jacqueline (Fernandez), Daisy (Shah),” he says.

Meanwhile, in the midst of a tight shooting schedule, Saqib is also chalking out plans for expanding their family business of restaurants to Mumbai. Saqib's father runs a chain of restaurants in Delhi where the actor was born and raised. “The plan is on paper and we are in the process of putting staff together to oversee the day to day functioning, and keeping check on food quality. It’s a slight procedure and we will take few months to set it up,” says Saqib. But at the moment it is only his release on his mind. “All I want is that the producer should recover their money. There is money riding on my shoulder. Somebody has believed in me, has invested on me and I don’t want to let them down. Good, bad or ugly, we will know that on Friday,” he signs off.

Published Date: Mar 09, 2018 08:46 AM | Updated Date: Mar 09, 2018 14:38 PM