Journey to Cannes

As they head to Cannes for the first time,actors Gulshan Deviah and Huma Qureshi recount their transit from the world of theatre and fashion.

Written by PriyankaPereira | Published: May 21, 2012 3:38 am

Actors Huma Qureshi and Gulshan Deviah have three things in common — both acted on stage,have Anurag Kashyap for mentor and are on their first visit to Cannes. Qureshi plays the female lead in Gangs of Wasseypur,directed by Kashyap,which will be showcased as part of Director’s Fortnight. Deviah plays the central character in Peddlers,directed by Vasan Bala and produced by Kashyap,that will be screened as part of the Cannes Critics Week.

For the two young actors,this is a remarkable opportunity to make their presence felt on an international platform. “My bags are packed and I am ready to go. I cannot wait to be there,” confesses Qureshi. Deviah finds it difficult to describe his feelings. “I haven’t watched Peddlers yet. I will watch it along with the media and audience at Cannes. That will be quite an experience,” says Deviah,who plays an officer from the Narcotics Bureau in the film.

In Bollywood,getting a big break is possible only when one has the right contacts in the industry. Qureshi and Deviah did not have any such luck and had to pave their own ways. Deviah,who hails from Bangalore,was keen on performing arts even during his school days. His parents loved Hindi film music,which attracted him to Hindi films. “I enjoyed watching Hindi films on television. But that one moment when I thought of being an actor was when I saw the cassette cover of Yaadon Ki Baaraat. A macho Dharmendra on the cover somehow drew my attention,” he says.

As he grew up,he started taking part in English theatre,one of his most popular plays being Butter and Mashed Banana. However,destiny had different plans.

His creative skills led him to appear for the NIFT examination,and crack it. “I spent ten years doing fashion. I liked it,but then one day I realised I love acting. And I must choose love over what I like,” says the 31-year-old. Deviah quit his job,moved cities,came to Mumbai and started seeking work. “I was introduced to a lot of theatre stalwarts in Mumbai. During one such meeting,I came across Kalki,who introduced me to Anurag. He saw some potential in me and cast me in That Girl in Yellow Boots,” says he.

Qureshi,who hails from Delhi,was initially studying to be a doctor. However,she kept alive her interest in performing arts by doing theatre throughout her college life. It was when her college closed down that she realised that acting was her true calling. “My dad wasn’t convinced. He had seen me as this bright girl. It took me around six to eight months to convince him,after which he let me come to Mumbai,” she says. The city was completely new to her. Qureshi started from scratch,as she went for a few auditions and bagged a few commercials. “My parents were happy that I was doing ads with Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan. The next step was to bag a film. So,I continued going for auditions,” she recalls. It was one such audition that got her the role in Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur.

“I did not care how big or small the role was. I was just happy to be working with Kashyap,” she says.

Both Qureshi and Deviah believe that while it was their theatre background that helped their journey in Bollywood,their stint in the fashion industry kept their confidence alive. Qureshi’s stint in a short film Sujata also helped her study the acting profession better.

“When I came to Mumbai,I wasn’t thinking of playing only lead roles. I wanted to do roles which will have an impact,” says Deviah. He did so with roles in Dum Maaro Dum and Shaitan. Qureshi is also happy to be a part of three different films — Wasseypur,Luv Shuv They Chicken Khurana and Ek Thi Daayan. I am glad my directors think I can pull it off.” Both of them do not rule out mainstream cinema. “I am not a planner. If at a given point a certain movie appeals to me I will do it,” says Deviah. Qureshi’s philosophy is simple. “As an actor,I believe it is important to learn with each of your films. At some point,if time permits,I would like to go back to my first love,theatre,” says she.

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