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Friday, April 16, 2021

First of Many: Ayub Khan revisits Mashooq

This week's First of Many features Ayub Khan. In the 73rd edition of our exclusive series, the actor talks about his first film as a lead, Mirza Brothers' directorial Mashooq (1992).

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: March 19, 2021 10:36:01 pm
ayub khan film debut mashooqAyub Khan starrer Mashooq released in 1992. (Photos: Express Archives)

Actor Ayub Khan says despite being born into a family of Bollywood veterans, he wasn’t really keen on entering films. It, however, happened because of necessity. Khan, who eventually did movies like Apaharan, LOC: Kargil, Mrityudand, Salaami and Dil Chahta Hai, has now been part of the industry for three decades.

Son of yesteryear actors Begum Para and Nasir Khan, and the nephew of thespian Dilip Kumar, Khan also went on to establish himself as a popular face on Indian television with shows including Shakti, Ek Hasina Thi, Uttran and more. He is currently seen in Ranju Ki Betiyaan on Dangal TV.

Ayub Khan looks back at how it all started, and what it was like facing the camera as a lead for the first time.

Here’s what he shared:

What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?

My first film was Mashooq (1992) by Mirza Brothers. After school, I did small stints in ads, and then I drifted away from all that. I thought I’ll become an Air Force pilot. Then I thought I’ll go to Jaipur to learn more about jewellery. But my mother kept pestering me to pursue a career in films and I believed I’m not cut-out for it as I couldn’t relate with it. Soon, my wallet decided my future. It told me I’m hungry. I thought maybe I’m not qualified for a lot of positions that I want to get into. Then, my mother put a word out and out of the blue I got this offer from Mirza Brothers. 90s was the time when they were launching actors in the industry left right and centre. I was lucky I was living in that phase. Along with me, there were Kamal Sadanah, Saif Ali Khan and other who were launched at that time. Anyway, they called me and I became one of those who got launched then.

This was 1990s. And I signed the film in 1989. So, I was 21-22 year old. It was a flamboyant, swashbuckling kind of a character who’s in love with this very hoity woman who rejects him. So he tries to woo her. It was the typical movie of that time.

ayub khan ayesha jhulka mashooq Ayub Khan and Ayesha Jhulka in a still from Mashooq. (Photo: Express Archives)

What do you remember of your first day on set?

The film was based on The Taming of the Shrew. It was also inspired from the film Aan because my producers and directors were ardent fans of my uncle (Dilip Kumar). Probably they were hoping that when I’ll come on screen, I would do the same magic like my uncle did (laughs). They were very supportive and encouraging of me. I told them I’m a little uncomfortable about all this, so they helped me get into Daisy Irani’s acting class. She helped me a lot. I remember that time my producers were making a film and I was assisting them on sets because they wanted me to get a hang of how things are done. Then one day after pack-up, they said they want to take my screen test. I got so scared. Anyway, I gathered my strength and decided to put my mind into the scene. I remember the lines were so bizarre, something like “I love you so much that I’ll break the stars…”

The moment I walked up to the heroine and looked up to her to say my lines, we both burst out laughing. I somehow recovered that and continued with my lines. My producers got impressed and said that was a nice angle I took, to laugh in the middle of your lines. I was actually laughing at the dialogue. They thought it was my talent and I just kept quiet. That’s how I got away with it.

Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

Of course I was nervous. And that is how it remained for a long time. I took quite a number of years to get comfortable in front of the camera. That sound of camera was very unnerving. It was not something I grew up with, we weren’t exposed to film sets. So I had no idea about this world. It wasn’t something I was craving to do either. It just came out of necessity.

First take was okayed and I was blown out of my mind that “that’s it?” Then I remember we were shooting the mahurat scene of my film at Pali Hills and my uncle Dilip Kumar had come to give the clap. There were a host of other luminaries present there. This time again I had Ayesha who I had to walk up to, say a couple of lines and we had to hug each other. I remember I was fine, talking to my uncle who gave me a few tips to breathe and calm my mind. The moment he said “action”, I had to take four steps towards Ayesha and they seemed four miles to me. They really need to teach the actors how to manage their legs. By the time I got to her, I was panting. So instead of finishing my lines and hugging her, I hugged her, put my whole weight on her and said my lines. Today, I can laugh about it, but that time it was very embarrassing. That time I didn’t want anyone to know about it.

And who were your co-stars? How was the rapport with them when you got to meet or work with them again later?

It had Ayesha Jhulka, Pran, Kiran Kumar and other actors. Ayesha is a great person who puts you at ease. That time, she had already done a film with Salman Khan. She was extremely confident and knew what she was doing. So that was a great help. A good reaction can get you a good action. She is a great friend and we share a fantastic rapport. We didn’t discuss work but she kept it light and that made it easy for me to romance her onscreen. Otherwise you’re not sure about how to touch, is it okay or not okay. She made it very easy for me.

If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what’s that one thing you’d like to change or do better?

I would definitely like to be more confident. If I could’ve just handled that better, I surely could’ve done better.

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One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?

By the time I got into my senses, it was the 70s. And we did not have many great films in 70s and 80s. We did have some nice films but they were with checks, bellbottoms, wigs, large glasses and all that. As a kid I couldn’t even relate to that kind of dressing. So I wasn’t really interested in films. Of course there was Sholay, Ram Aur Shyam etc. I was obviously in awe of my uncle and Amitabh Bachchan. His films were ruling the roaster at that time, but not industry at large.

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