Kubbra Sait: ‘The film industry we are criminalising for nepotism was actually started by a few families’
Jawaani Jaaneman actor Kubbra Sait says some people will have more chances than others but if an actor is not good, they will not survive.Updated: Jul 24, 2020 12:50 IST
Kubbra Sait, the actor who shot to fame as Kuckoo in Sacred Games, had been in the industry since a decade but confesses that it was the web show that brought her into limelight. Despite having a slow start, Kubbra refuses to be critical towards those who get an easy debut in the film industry. Ever since she got her breakthough after playing the role of a transgender, the actor says she wants to play roles that have a voice of their own and have a story to tell.
For a change, Kubbra played a girl-next-door in Saif Ali Khan-starrer Jawaani Jaaneman and wants her admirers to see this side of hers as well. The actor has also played a death row convict in the web show Illegal and a controlling wife in TVF Tripling. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Kubbra opened up about her latest release, her various characters on screen and her views on the insider-outsider debate and nepotism. Excerpts:
Share your views on the insider-outsider debate and nepotism.
I think there is no short cut in this industry and everyone has to put in hard work. Let’s be honest, the industry that we are criminalizing for nepotism is an industry that was started by a few families, who wanted to tell stories. Even they have expanded and so has the industry as a whole. Instead of us constantly trying to pull people down, whether they are from the industry or not, we must pull ourselves up and work towards the progress that we want to see.
I am not the one to settle your personal agenda or vendetta, that’s not fair. We have got some extremely powerful examples in today’s world where the people are not from the industry background. There is Bhumi Pednekar, Ayushmann Khurrana and Taapsee Pannu, they are leading actors. I have taken 10 years to be here today. If I had decided to give up or if I had decided to deal with everybody else out there without being patient, it’s not the industry to blame, it is me. Of course some people will have more chances than others. But today’s world that we live in, you are being judged for everything. Everybody has an opinion. If you are not good, you won’t survive.
So let’s just stop beating people down. Instead let’s ride together. What if those families had not started this business! How many times will you say Tiger Shroff is a product of nepotism? Jackie Shroff didn’t come from this industry, he worked his way up. If he says that he doesn’t want his son to go through that trouble, I will not go around and tell him ‘why are you doing this for your son?’ It is their family, their decision. I can appreciate what he does right and what he does differently. If we try to beat people down, it doesn’t make us better people. Who has the time to be an a*****e right now? How can we blame people who are good at what they do! If they are bad, they won’t get another chance, atleast in today’s world.
After portraying a variety of characters, what made you say yes to Jawaani Jaaneman?
Jawaani Jaaneman is extremely close to my heart because it is one of those roles which I got without an audition. I was shooting for the film in London when I came to know that Saif Ali Khan actually recommended me for the role. It was nothing like what I had already done before. I was called bold, a rule breaker and the one who thinks out of the box but I was like -- this is my job as an actor, I should be able to do both.
How was it to share screen space with Saif Ali Khan?
I started calling him Khan Saab and he asked me not to. There is no air about him. His years of work in the industry clearly shows because he knows exactly which shot is going to make it to the film. He is very careful about small nitty gritties. He is very centered, reserved and extremely intelligent. It was wonderful to work in his company as he’s only sharing that joy with everyone around him on the sets.
Are you still asked weird questions about your choice of playing a transgender in Sacred Games?
What’s wonderful is that I am asked questions. Even I learn more through those questions. I was also able to learn more about the LGBTQIA community by playing an empowering character like Kuckoo. I was able to represent them at their own film festival. There is a sense of respect. If you belong to LGBTQIA community, you aren’t any different from me as a performer. There are incredible questions that have come to the forefront. I am so grateful that I was able to do that part because who knew that 377 will be slashed in 2018. It has been such a wonderful journey. I am not asking questions, I am being asked questions. If I don’t know an answer, I am happy to research it and happy to ask people who know the answers.
What do you think about Mairembam Ronaldo Singh’s performance as Chini in Paatal Lok?
I searched if she was actually a transgender and I went out there and made a huge special mention for her. I was being put under the bus several times that why don’t we have more transgender actors. You need to have them; the community will come forward as well and save your actors. It’s not about just having a presence; it’s about having the right presence. If you are a good actor and you belong to the LGBTQIA community, nobody has the power to stop you except yourself. Look at the 90s’ films and the ones made today, there is such a huge difference. We are evolving. You should recognize what was good and also look back in time and see what they did wrong and how can it be rectified today.
How was it to play Meher Salam (a death row convict) in Illegal?
I went in, did my job, I was angry for all the right reasons and I walked away. I would take a timeout because I used to be angry at everyone. I really associated with Meher Salam’s pain. There is no justice for such people in the judicial system and that was heartbreaking. These stories are real and need to be told, I am so glad someone had the courage to tell the story the way it is.
Your next film Dolly Kitty Aur Chamakte Sitare is set to release on Netflix. Tell us more about it.
My part in the film is that of a super fun, happy-go-lucky and a very determined character in relation to Bhumi’s character. I look up to Alankrita Srivastava because of her earlier film Lipstick Under My Burkha and Bhumi is the epitome of changing narratives the way stories are told in India. I look up to Konkona as well, she called me a good actor.
Why did you take up such few projects in almost a decade-long acting career?
Because I didn’t get an opportunity, nobody thought I was an actor, even I didn’t think I was an actor. I was learning and embracing the craft. Even though I worked in Ready, Jodi Breakers, Sultan and Gully Boy, I didn’t considr myself to be an actor. I think I became an ‘actor’ and established my footing in this industry in 2018.
If I have done five projects in two years, I think it’s fantastic. If I start catering to everybody else, when will I satisfy my own self. I am just happy that I am working. You like it or you don’t like it, it is up to you.
Watch the World Television premiere of Jawaani Jaaneman on Saturday, July 25 at 9 pm on Zee Cinema.
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