“At 22, I wish I had done more solo travels,” says Arif Zakaria

The actor reminisces about enrolling into law college, being in a reluctant relationship and playing cricket and badminton for fitness
Arif Zakaria at 22 (inset) and at 54 (above)
Arif Zakaria at 22 (inset) and at 54 (above)
Published on Aug 29, 2021 09:50 AM IST
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By Dinesh Raheja

Where were you career-wise?

I had enrolled into Government Law College and had also finished acting in a serial on Doordarshan. I knew that I loved acting but my career path seemed muddled then.

What was your bank balance then?

I had made some money from acting assignments on TV and theatre. I had a tiny personal minimum balance to my credit in HSBC bank.

While shooting a scene for Chunauti with Channa Ruparel
While shooting a scene for Chunauti with Channa Ruparel

What was your romantic life like?

I was in a reluctant (from my end), wry and confused association with a stewardess from East-West Airlines.

Arif during his college days when he was also acting in a Doordarshan serial
Arif during his college days when he was also acting in a Doordarshan serial

What was your equation with your family then?

My family consisted of my late father Ahmed Zakaria, mother Feroza Zakaria and three siblings: elder sister Shaheen Parkar, younger sister Effat Hassan and younger brother Asif. At age 22, siblings are sounding boards — supportive and non-competitive.

With Channa Ruparel from the popular TV show Chunauti
With Channa Ruparel from the popular TV show Chunauti

Were you a sharp dresser with a well-developed fashion sense?

My sense of style was terrible — my wardrobe comprised high-waisted pants, tight T-shirts with zippers, oversized sweatshirts and occasionally pleated pants. I was at the mercy of more fashionable friends and Fashion Street.

Your fitness quotient?

I played cricket and badminton and had started attending Talwalkar’s gym in Santa Cruz.

His first performance at Prithvi theatre with his college mate actor Atul Agnihotri; (inset) at a fashion show at Law College
His first performance at Prithvi theatre with his college mate actor Atul Agnihotri; (inset) at a fashion show at Law College

Which singers did you groove to?

Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi. Also, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Michael Jackson.

Who were your acting idols?

I saw Shernaz Patel in the play Veronica’s Room and was blown away! On TV, I was impressed by Anita Kanwar in Buniyaad. And on film, the impression Kamal Haasan created in Nayakan lingered for a long time.

I also remember seeing My Left Foot at the American Centre, Mumbai, and being gobsmacked by Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance. And I was always intrigued by Charlie Chaplin’s amazing grasp over the film medium.

Rowing a boat on the Ganges while in Benares for the show Karambhoomi
Rowing a boat on the Ganges while in Benares for the show Karambhoomi

What was your most prized possession?

A scrapbook of RK Laxman’s cartoons.

Your biggest dream then?

To start a theatre company called Histrionics.

Arif at a fashion show at Law College
Arif at a fashion show at Law College

Any anecdote from that time which is stored away in your memory file?

A lady friend in Law College gave me a wooden plaque as a birthday gift. On the plaque was written: “Are you here with the problem or are you a part of the solution”?

If you had a chance to change one thing about yourself then, what would it be?

I would develop more courage. Also, I wish I had done more solo travels.

From HT Brunch, August 29, 2021

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021