Dobaara's real life siblings, Huma Qureshi-Saqib Saleem on their spooky Oculus remake

Seema Sinha

May,16 2017 11:01:37 IST

After making her debut in a supporting role in the two-part crime drama Gangs of Wasseypur (2102), followed by a raft of award nominations, Huma Qureshi went on to do films in several different genres. That same year, she played the lead female role in the romance Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, and followed it with a role in the supernatural thriller, Ek Th Daayan.

Further, the actress was seen in the black comedy Dedh Ishqiya (2014), the revenge drama Badlapur (2015) and most recently, in a comic role opposite Akshay Kumar in Jolly LLB 2.  Huma — a history graduate, found herself in the international space with Gurinder Chadha’s British-Indian historical drama Viceroy’s House. 

Huma is now looking forward to the release of Dobaara: See Your Evil, which happens to be a remake of the supernatural/psychological horror Hollywood flick, Oculus — rated as one of the scariest of films ever. Besides Adil Hussain, Lisa Ray, Rhea Chakraborty and Madalina Bellariu Ion, the film also stars Huma’s brother, Saqib Saleem.

The brother-sister duo is working together for the first time, and while Huma says, that she couldn’t disconnect from being an actor and a sister, Saqib tried maintaining a balance between their "professional and personal relationship" on the sets.

Siblings on screen, and off: Saqib Saleem and Huma Qureshi. Photos via Facebook

Siblings on screen, and off: Saqib Saleem and Huma Qureshi. Photos via Facebook

"First of all, we never thought that we would do a film together, but it happened...then we started shooting together. I had to stay away from the fact that we are siblings or else it would have been difficult, and once we moved past that, it was a lot of fun. But we share an awkward sibling relationship in the film, totally different from how we are in real life.  In the film, our characters detest each other, even though there is a lot of love between the two,” says Saqib.

Says Huma, “It can get very irritating working with your brother. Just imagine, what you have to go through at home, the same follows at the work place [laughs]! Actually I was more irritating on the sets as compared to Saqib. I could never disconnect from being an actor and being a sister. I was always a sister on the sets, watching out for him, what is he doing, why is he doing it, who is he getting friendly with, why is he helping out so and so, whether or not he has eaten his food. Saqib wouldn’t like it, and he was like, ‘Back off man, give me my space’. So I was the more irritating (one) in this sibling equation. But there was definitely a comfort level. You can say anything, you can trust him, you know each other’s reactions. Saqeeb and I don’t look very similar but there is a kind of similarity in our reactions if you speak to both of us.”

Saqib further says, “It is because of the fact that we are family, sometimes the lines tend to get blurred while working together, but then you enjoy that also. At times, I would speak to Huma as an actor and at others, as a brother," he said.  However, Saqib found the balance very interesting. "It made us understand each other as actors more. We got to know each other's process of working. For that, I think this film was a great exercise and we had great fun shooting," he says, adding, “We both wanted the film to become better, that was our endeavour, and I think both of us gelled on the set. I was surprised. We bonded really well. It was a very nice equation we shared. I thought we won’t gel on the set because we are two different kinds of people, but I think we somehow managed. I think we brought different energies. As actors, we have different energies and that kind of helped while shooting the film."

Posters of Dobaara: See Your Evil

Posters of Dobaara: See Your Evil

Oculus, which released in 2013, was a thriller mystery about the relationship of two adult siblings who lose their parents very early on. While the girl believes that an antique mirror is the reason for the death of her family, her brother is trying to rebuild their lives. The two of them together try to find the truth. So, how well did being real life siblings work out for Huma and Saqib in Dobaara? “I was really amazed at Huma’s performing skills. She did not have a very conventional debut and I have always admired her as an actress. She is very alive in this film and in every scene. She is extremely spontaneous and can be seen playing with the dialogues,” says Saqib about Huma.

He continues, “My character is very rational and practical person, whereas in real life I get swayed by emotions. I am the frivolous kind but I play an intense person in the film. I am not a trained actor. I take time to get into the character. My character here is sent to a juvenile home where I spend 12 years. I am a complete loner. I stationed myself in Delhi for some time to attend workshops to get into the skin of the character. I also visited juvenile homes in the city to bring authenticity to my performance. Then, I spent some time all alone in a room. I locked myself in a room with no access to the outside world...absolutely no phone, no television...nothing at all, and it was so very difficult. While in my character, my silence talks about my angst, I don’t verbalise emotions, but post-pack up I was a different person...”

It is a fact that horror as a genre hasn’t been explored in Bollywood, and most of the times it's presented in somewhat cheap/tacky fashion by mixing in sex. But Huma says the horror in Dobaara is world class. “It is not tacky. There is no sex scene. The premise is the same (as Oculus), we play siblings, an incident happens in the family and both of us have two different points of view as to what happened that night. The brother is trying to run away from the past and the sister is trying to drag him back into it. They were little when the incident happened so their memory has become hazy. They are trying to recollect and come to terms with it, get closure and remember the truth of what happened. The premise is very similar but the emotions are different and it also plays a major part unlike Hollywood, since we have a different value system,” says Huma.

Adds Saqib,  “I would like to believe that Dobaara is clutter-breaking and path-breaking horror film. That time has gone when we made the Ramsay kind of movies, or those sleazy films with shots of a girl taking a shower who then gets killed. We have outgrown all those tantriks, babas and maulvi kind of horror films, that was a scare (tactic) then. We have to evolve, the genre has to move past all these clichés. There is no divine intervention shown here. Within no time we can think of five romcoms in Bollywood but there is no recall value for the horror genre. The only film I can remember is Ram Gopal Varma’s Raat. But there is an audience for horror films.”

But why would people who have seen Oculus watch  Dobaara? “Because Dobaara is not a cut-copy-paste of Oculus. When we talk of remakes, lot of people  steal and copy without giving adequate credit. Sometimes, it is just a scene-by-scene replication of the same thing. Dobaara is not a film where a Patricia becomes Padma or Stewart becomes Sameer. It is far more nuanced than that; it is an actual adaptation where the characters are Indianised, where the context is changed. It is about an Indian family living in London and something that happens with them. I would want more and more better films in horror genre. It is as important as a drama or a biopic or a comedy or a romantic film,” says Huma, who’s yearning to do a slapstick comedy, a historical, a biopic and a race driver movie among others. “There is no end to my desires. Actors are greedy. I want to keep working.”

Meanwhile, Saqib, who is currently working on a romantic comedy titled Makhna with Tapsee Pannu, will be also joining his father in his restaurant business. Huma and Saqib’s father runs a chain of restaurants in Delhi, and the latter will be helping in bringing the restaurant to Mumbai: "My dad and I have been discussing for a long time. Now I have started to act upon it. I am very excited to explore it as it will involve me and dad working together."

Updated Date: May 16, 2017 11:01 AM