Director Nikhil Advani’s search for the young Akshay Kumar in Patiala House ended with Swedish-born Usmaan Qureshi, a 17-year-old teen who bears a striking resemblance to the actor, right down to a scar on his right eye-brow. He was signed on after just one meeting with the filmmakers and is now called Akki Junior by the team.
Kumar says that the first time he saw Usmaan in the screen-test video, he was amazed at the similarity in their appearance. “He even acted and spoke the way I did when I was 17 and I was clean bowled,” he marvels, “But I wondered if he could bowl and field like me in a cricket field. Then I met Usmaan in London and couldn’t stop laughing. He is my perfect double. The only difference is that he’s grown up in Europe and loves football.”
Qureshi admits that his family had always jokingly commented on his resemblance to Kumar. “I thought they were pulling my leg till I saw the rushes of one of his films and met him. And then I realised that being compared to him is a compliment. He made me really comfortable on the sets and has fabulous sense of humour.”
The 17 year old, born and brought up in Sweden, has just completed a degree-course in Economics and signed up with the modelling agency — StockholmsGruppen. “I thought I would be working as an investment banker as soon as I completed my degree. But here I am playing the young Akshay Kumar in a Bollywood film,” he chuckles. “Life is so much fun!”
Qureshi enjoys cricket as much as football, tennis and ice hockey even though he hadn’t played the game till he came on the sets of Patiala House. “As part of my homework, I watched videos featuring fast bowlers and practiced cricket everyday. Balvinder Singh Sandhu is my cricket coach,” he informs.
The debutant is a Hindi film buff and hasn’t missed any of Kumar’s films even though they come to Sweden months later. He says, “I picked up a bit of his body language from them but I had to work on the rest on my own.”