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HT No TV Day: Siblings Huma Qureshi, Saqib Saleem share their plans

This No TV Day Weekend, actor-siblings Huma Qureshi and Saqib Saleem say it’s a great idea to hang out with family, and tell Brunch how they spend their off days at home.

brunch Updated: May 31, 2015 10:22 IST
Nihit Bhave
Nihit Bhave
Hindustan Times
Saqib Saleem,Huma Qureshi,No TV Day

It’s 10am. Huma Qureshi has been up for a few hours. She has even knocked on her brother Saqib Saleem’s bedroom door a couple of times, but there has been no response. Saqib, unlike Huma, isn’t a morning person.

She tries to wake him up again, knowing well that another knock on the door will annoy him. He wakes up, and they have their first quarrel of the day, about why she had to wake him up so early.

"I’m so used to these morning fights now," jokes Saqib. "In fact, if my day hasn’t begun with a fight with Huma, it’s not begun right."

No two siblings can live without fighting, Huma believes. Add a new, plush house in Andheri (they were renting an apartment for a long time before that and grew up in Delhi), to the equation, and the usual organised-person-clumsy-person arguments are sufficient to keep them busy all day.

"We have very few days when we’re home together," she says. "And whenever that happens, we have totally different agendas. He wants to sleep in, and I want to get the chores done. We have the usual boy-girl issues in the house. He’s just, such a boy!"

"But I am a boy!" protests Saqib, and they get into another typical sibling squabble.

Coming from probably the last generation that hasn’t grown up addicted to smartphones, tablets and other gadgets, Huma and Saqib say that there are a lot of things to do when the screens are off. Fighting over small things and then making up is, evidently, their favourite on the list.

How do you start your off days at home?

Whenever I’m in the house, I start spring-cleaning no matter what season it is! I’ll say, ‘Oh that is not in the right place, this is not where it belongs,’ and so on. I wake up before Saqib, so I can start my safaai abhiyaan. I will start playing music, supervise the cleaning, and start making lists.

Saqib: Which means a lot noise. Whenever I wake up to noise in the house, it’s a sign that Huma is up to her tricks. I take at least an hour to wake up. I don’t want to talk to people right away. I have my coffee and read the newspaper. But Huma has a whole to-do list prepared even before I open my eyes!Is there any activity you agree on doing together?

Huma has started cooking lately. But there’s a trick to that, too. It’s like an event in the kitchen. All energies are diverted there. Although, she’s become better at it.

Huma: Excuse me? Better matlab? Do you mean better than the best, considering everything I make gets wiped clean?

Saqib: Well, we have to eat whatever you cook, don’t we?

Huma: Not like he helps me in the kitchen.

Saqib: But it’s a shared activity because I like eating.

Say cheese: They’re actors, all right. As soon as the camera comes out, Huma and Saqib get ready with photobooth poses.

Do you invite friends over for game nights?

Oh yes, we have a group of friends that comes over quite often for Taboo and Pictionary.

Saqib: While playing Taboo, all my references come from in inside jokes and background stories. Only certain people get them. They’re really bizarre!

Huma: Yeah, I’m more intelligent about clues.

Saqib: I agree. But another fact is, she always loses her temper first, and eventually loses the game.

Huma: Actually, we’re both competitive. We always have to be in opposite teams, otherwise there are internal fights.

It must be great to live with your sibling. Just like childhood, all over again…

Yeah, but it can be tricky too. I’ve become the inadvertent matriarch, always telling Saqib to be more responsible. I hate being the mother of the house!

But the flip side is, you don’t need a 3am friend because your brother is across the hall. He’s literally just a door away.

Saqib: But that can be frustrating, haan. Imagine, it’s 3am and your sister wants to have a heart-to-heart conversation! I’m just like, "Subah baat karenge yaar!" And she’ll repeat topics, so we end up having the same discussions over and over.

Huma: But I’ve to do that because you don’t listen the first time! Is that your biggest complaint about him?

No, Saqib is Mr Chaos. He’s the life of the party, but doesn’t clean up after the party!

Saqib: Hey, hey…

Huma: Okay, okay! He cleaned up once. And I’ll probably have to hear about it all my life now.

Was there a TV-ban while you were growing up in Delhi?

My mother was very strict. So on school nights, it was lights out at 9.30pm and no TV. But Saqib and I would set a 2.30am alarm to watch some cricket match or a Hollywood film. We had VHS tapes of Sholay and The Wizard Of Oz that we would watch on loop.

Saqib: The TV would always be on mute, though. Or on volume level II with our ears almost pressed up against the screen to hear the dialogues.

Huma: I think the concept of going out to play was still very much in place, so Saqib and I would go out in the society compound with our friends, we would do a ‘gedi’ (ride/walk around) and eat at the local tikkiwalla.

Saqib: There was a skating rink that was converted into a basketball court, so we would play basketball there. You know, Huma was a national level basketball player.

Huma: What rubbish! If this comes out in print, you can blame him for inaccuracy! (Laughs)

Saqib: However, Huma’s favourite pastime was getting me into trouble.

How did she do that?
Huma had this habit of faking a fight, so if my dad was in the other room, and we argued over something, she would start screaming, “Saqib mujhe mat maaro! Saqib, lag jayega, kya kar rahe ho!” My dad would walk into the room, shocked. I’ve been beaten up because of such shenanigans when in reality; I’d not even touched her.
Huma: (Laughs) I was just practising my skills; I wanted to be an actor, after all!

In a city like Mumbai, how important is it to take some time off and have a conversation with your family?
When you’re so caught up with work, you realise it’s important to chat with someone rational, who understands what you’re going through: your difficulties and frustration. Saqib and I don’t just talk about sibling things anymore.
Saqib: Yeah, in Delhi, we were also living together as siblings, but being away from home and working in films has helped us understand what it takes to make it in the city, and what the pressures and challenges are.
Huma: Like some times, we work on completely different projects. When he’s doing a fun film, and I’m doing something intense, we both come back home with different mindsets.
Even the small things become an adjustment then: whether or not to have people over, what kind of music to play, etc. But we talk about these things, and try to decompress that way. The industry and the city have brought us closer.

Photos by Satish Bate
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From HT Brunch, May 31
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First Published: May 29, 2015 18:38 IST