Huma Qureshi's journey in Bollywood has been one of dogged determination and that rare never-say-die spirit.
On her 28th birthday, we take a look at her not-so-Bollywood career -- from her choice of unconventional, non-commercial films to living up to a persona that is far from being traditional in the industry.
An industry outsider in every sense of the word (she was born and brought up in Delhi), this 5'5 beauty always had her eyes set on being an actor. After honing her acting skills with Arvind Gaur's theatre group Act One in the capital, she shifted base to Mumbai in 2008 to try her luck in films.
Sadly, the transition didn't go as planned: Huma was selected for two films, but she had to wait for her debut in the industry as both the films were shelved even before they went to floors. Destiny, it seemed, had different plans for her back then.
We take a look at the roles that helped Huma carve a niche for her in the industry.
Huma's blink-and-you-will-miss-her role in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur wasn't really the kind of debut any newcomer is ever comfortable with, but she made the most of the opportunity that came her way. She was introduced in the second half of the film, but that was enough for her to make her presence felt in the industry.
She played Mohsina in the film: a ferociously headstrong girl who's wooed by the gangster, Faisal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Mohsina played by her own rules, using her sexual charms whenever needed, so much so that even an unscrupulous gangster like Faisal didn't mind bending over backwards to win her over. Huma announced her arrival in the industry with this dream debut: she bagged the Filmfare and Screen awards for best supporting actor and female debut that year.
Huma played a similar woman, set in different environment in the Madhuri Dixit-Naseeruddin Shah-Arshad Warsi-starrer Dedh Ishqiya. Only, this time it was royal Awadh where she dominated and also used her sexual charms to her end.
The scary witch
The recognition didn't change anything in Huma's mind though. She remained level-headed as always and didn't go on a film signing spree. She continued to be choosy about the roles she accepted and ensured dhe didn't dilute her value in the industry. Ekta Kapoor's Ek Thi Daayan was an irritatingly stupid film, but Huma's character certainly did not confirm to the usual rules of a desi 'daayan'.
In Lov Shuv Tey Chicken Khurrana, Huma showed signs of her comic timing and the audience lapped her up with open arms. This one was also a defiantly non-feminine character in the traditional sense: her fans loved Huma riding her scooter in the fields of Punjab, with the hero sitting behind her. The film flopped at the box office, but Huma was once again noticed by the critics.
The RAW officer
Not too many heroines have ever looked convincing playing an undercover RAW official. Huma not only signed up for the critically-acclaimed D-Day, but also effortlessly stepped into the shoes of Zoya Rehman. Despite sharing screenspace with veteran actors such as Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, such was Huma's performance that she was nominated for the Zee Cine Best Actor in a Supporting Role—Female and the BIG Star Entertainment Awards Most Entertaining Actor in a Thriller Film—Female.
The actor heckled a few feathers recently when she posed on the cover of a lifestyle magazine for a feature that ridiculed zero size. Huma posed with a manequin that said "I don't owe you perfection. My Body My Rules."
Also read: Huma is proud of her curves
The actor took a strong position across her public appearances and made it a point that she specifically clarified that it was not a one-off advertisement assignment but something she believes in.