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Saqib ‘Rangbaaz’ dying to dig into Lakhnavi food

Actor Saqib Saleem is just eight films old. His last film ‘Race3’, starring Salman Khan, notched up Rs 170 crore at the box office. Yet, he is the complete Dilliwallah by heart. “Savouring food in the local market, speaking the local dialect and doing realistic roles is what I am all about,” said the actor during his visit to Lucknow.

lucknow Updated: Oct 27, 2018 15:48 IST
Deep Saxena
Deep Saxena
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Actor Saqib Saleem,Salman Khan,Dilliwallah
Actor Saqib Saleem.(HT Photo)

Actor Saqib Saleem is just eight films old. His last film ‘Race3’, starring Salman Khan, notched up Rs 170 crore at the box office. Yet, he is the complete Dilliwallah by heart. “Savouring food in the local market, speaking the local dialect and doing realistic roles is what I am all about,” said the actor during his visit to Lucknow.

The actor is currently shooting the webseries ‘Rangbaaz’ in the state capital, which also stars Ranvir Shorey and Lucknow-girl Aahana Kumra.

“After moving to Mumbai, I have not seen this world for a while. I have grown up with Punjabis, Haryanvis and UPites around me. Learning languages happened to me at an age when I was not learning at all. From the core, I am ‘Dilli ka launda’ and have known this space,” Saleem said.

The nine-episode web series is set in Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Eastern UP. “It’s a real story of a gangster who was active in the 90s. He was just 26 years old when he was killed. So, this is a human story of that dreaded person who also had a girlfriend, was scared of this father and was human at heart!” He avoided admitting that the story is based on gangster Sri Prakash Shukla.

For his role he is sporting a moustache. “Now, it’s time that even heroes look the part that they play. Today, every actor is making extra effort to be as true to his part as is possible; to make people believe in the character and the story.”

“This is one of the most exciting pieces of content I have read on somebody. The idea, script, creative director Nishikant Kamat and director Bhav Dhulia everything is just perfect. Content like Sacred Games, Goul and others have changed everything. There is an audience if the content good,” Saleem said.

He gives an example, “A few months back, my guard at our residential apartment used to watch Bhojpuri XXXXXXX on his mobile. When I saw him last, he was watching Sacred Games. He is changing his preference. He is understanding and consuming that content. As an actor you want that your work should be watched and get appreciation. So, it’s great!”

Saqib feels that the inroads that web-content has made has added viewers who don’t want to watch regressive TV. “Everything put together is providing a bouquet for the viewers.”

‘Race3’ was a hit but got a mixed response from viewers. What does he feel about it?

“I got to work with biggest stars of the country Salman bhai, Anil (Kapoor), Bobby Deol and one of the biggest action franchises. It’s the biggest film I have done in my life which earned Rs 170 crore. Before, that I have done seven films which worked or not but I got a lot of love for it. But for ‘Race’ I got lot of hate! It was a great learning experience. More than calling it success or failure, I see it as a milestone in my career,” he said.

“I had a wish that my film releases on Eid and this happened. I used to buy tickets to watch (Salman) bhai’s film and here I was working with him. I am a middle-class Delhi boy and for me these things matter a lot!

“Next, will be this web series and then I start a film in February and another in April which I can’t talk about,” he added.

This is Saleem’s second visit to Lucknow. “I came for a day for promoting ‘Dobaara’ with (sister) Huma Qureshi. Technically, this is my second trip but practically this is for the first time that I am exploring Lucknow. It has been good six days. I shot for two days but then I got a sore throat. I guess its change of weather and in Mumbai we are not used to this climate change. Sharma’s chai, basket chaat…I have had a few of the local goodies, but there’s still a long way to go. I have a long list that my co-star Aahana Kumar has handed over to me,” he said.

The actor will be staying here for a month and is looking forward to having a great time in the food haven. “I have had enough of Mughlai food in Delhi (coming from a restaurateur family) and now it’s time for Awadhi fare,” Saleem said.

First Published: Oct 27, 2018 15:48 IST