Jolly LLB 2 is a masala entertainer with a soul, says Huma Qureshi
Huma Qureshi shot to fame in Bollywood with her supporting role in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur. She has since then acted in Ek Thi Daayan, Dedh Ishqiya, Badlapur, and won many accolades for her performances.
Incidentally, in her five-year-old career, Huma has been seen in characters with dark undertones, and so when she got the opportunity to work with Akshay Kumar, one of the most commercially viable superstars, in Jolly LLB 2, she grabbed it with both hands.
"Honestly, I got a lot of offers which were similar to Badlapur and I didn't want that. Unfortunately, we live in a world which is so myopic that they only want to offer you what you have already done. I didn't want to do another glamorous character who was brash or a sex worker. That's also why I wasn't promoting Badlapur out-and-out. If I did, people would only ask, 'Oh you're playing a sex worker? How many scenes did you have with Varun (Dhawan)?' It's a very disrespectful way to talk to not only women but also to an actor,” she says.
She continues, “When I am doing a role, I don't think that I am getting to wear a mini skirt or show my stomach. I was given the choice to play either of the two female characters in Badlapur, but I thought playing a sex worker was far more challenging. I think as an actor, I need to take up meaty characters and that is what my attempt has been till date. I am doing a role because I am an actor. It's not nice to be asked those kind of questions. I took my time because I was not in a hurry. I want to do something different, something interesting. I have other hobbies to keep myself busy.”
Directed by Subhash Kapoor, Jolly LLB 2 is a sequel to the 2013 film Jolly LLB which starred Arshad Warsi and Amrita Rao in the lead roles.
Huma can comprehend a huge difference by sharing screen space with a mainstream star. “I am very grateful because I feel my audience will increase now. More people will see this film. There may not be many who have seen Badlapur or Gangs Of Wasseypur. My biggest hit so far has been Badlapur. I think the appreciation and exposure I will get from Jolly LLB 2 will be huge. So yes, it would help me,” she says, adding that the second part has got more singing, dancing making it a masala entertainer “with a soul”.
“It is a complete film. I can watch it with my family. It has a good message, and there's also patriotism in it. It's a wholesome film,” says Huma, while also narrating an incident that happened during the shoot. “We were shooting a crucial scene in Hazratganj, Lucknow. There was a building under construction and people were climbing the scaffolding to see the shoot. We were really scared and even Akshay's bodyguard was like, 'Sir abhi bahut tension ho rahi hai. Kisi ne patthar maar diya toh (I am worried. What if someone throws a stone?). But I have to say that the people of Uttar Pradesh are so nice. They were shouting Akshay's name but once he waved to them, they became quiet. It's amazing to see that kind of love and fan base.”
Huma dismisses the theory that success comes only when an actor does a film with a superstar.
Justifying the same, she says, “Before I came to Mumbai to become an actor, I was doing theatre. My dream was to do just one film. Gangs Of Wasseypur had two parts and 200 actors. I didn't think it would be that successful and go to international festivals. These things just happen. You should do films that you like doing. If you think that one should do a commercial movie because everyone is doing it and that one will become a big star, that's a wrong thought. I think that if you don't have that grain in you, it will not happen.”
Akshay had said that he has followed a path set by Arshad Warsi, who starred in the first Jolly LLB, so did Huma follow Amrita Rao's path?
“I don't know what Akshay said but I think they are very different Jollys. That Jolly was from Delhi and this one is from Lucknow. The cases are different and the way they have played Jolly is totally different. Arshad is a dear friend and I loved the first Jolly. You can't make comparisons, it's like a separate film,” says Huma, who, like every actor who has worked with Akshay, would start shoot at the crack of dawn and wrap up by 5pm every day.
“It's amazing because you can go home, work out and spend time with family. I guess he wants to do that too. He doesn't work on Sundays,” she says. She also shares her experience of working with Akshay. "There is lot of entertainment as well. Akshay plays a lot of pranks. He took my phone once and messaged two-three actors saying, 'I want to marry you. I love you.' I had to call them and tell them that it wasn't true,” she laughs heartily.
Next, Huma will be seen in Gurinder Chadha’s British-Indian Historical drama, Viceroy House, a film based on Partition.
“The last few months when India got independence and was also partitioned, in 1947, all the big leaders came to India and discussed how the country would be cut out, how the first government would be formed. That house, which later became the government house, was then called the Viceroy's House. There's also a love story between a Hindu servant and a Muslim translator. I was very excited to work with Gurinder because she is Punjabi but a British citizen. She has a very balanced point of view of what really happened,” concludes Huma.