After seven years in the Hindi film industry, actor Saqib Salem seems to have finally entered the happening phase of his career with two releases this year including superstar Salman Khan’s Race 3. But if there’s something that remains consistent in him, it is what he calls the “outsider complex”.
“I have always said this and will again say that it’s not because of the industry but, people, who come from outside the industry, like I have, no matter what, we always have an outsider complex. You can’t do anything about it. We keep fighting about it. We are always thinking do we fit in or do we not fit in. It’s just human nature to have that (thought), ‘Am I fitting in? Am I allowed to do this? Am I allowed to be talking to him like that?'” said Saqib.
Saqib Saleem has, however, learnt to deal with this dilemma, by steering clear from the industry insiders and surrounding himself with people, who he has known from before he became a Bollywood actor.
“I don’t want to ask myself so many questions. So, I might as well have my own set of people, I have grown up with and I am friends with. If I work with someone and form a friendship, great, but I am not going to go out of my way to form friendships just because the industry works like that. So, I have never felt lonely because I have had great friends in life, who have always been there with me.”
Keeping a distance from the industry people has its own disadvantages. The actor admits he and his actor sister Huma Qureshi miss having someone in the profession by their side to give them an insider’s perspective on things that matter.
“Sometimes you do need somebody for sound advice. Thankfully, Huma (his sister) and I have each other but sometimes you want an insider’s opinion on things in the industry, that you wish someone is there but… it’s okay, with time and our journey, we will find people, we will have friendships. If I am only going to make friendships thinking I can use him or her in a way then I am doing it for the wrong reason,” quipped Saqib.
That the industry treats star kids and outsiders differently is a fact that is well substantiated by the unequal distribution of work between them. Saqib agrees but adds that things are changing, as he cites examples of Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana – both outsiders – who today are among the sought-after actors in Bollywood.
“Everybody, today, wants to work. If you’re good, you’re good. If bad, then bad. It’s simple. Which star kid is working well despite being bad?”
“It’s very simple. My dad runs restaurants and if tomorrow I want to open a restaurant, it will be easier for me than for anyone from any other field. So, if I am going to keep cribbing about the opportunities that they are getting, then I am stupid. Of course, they have access. (But) what an Arjun Kapoor is going through, only he knows, he has his own struggles. So, this nepotism doesn’t work much now.
“After a film or two, you don’t get a film if you are not good. So, you have to be good to be getting work continuously. Industry has become much more open today. Today, an Ayushmann is getting opportunities because he is good, a Rajkummar is having the best time of his career because he is good. If you are talented, nobody can stop you. You just have to believe in yourself and if you are going to think, ‘He got the film because he is the son of so and so parent,’ then you will never get work because you have a bad attitude,” he said.
On his own career front, Saqib’s pumped up as he is gearing up for the release of Dil Junglee, his romantic-comedy with Taapsee Pannu. It arrives in theatres on March 9.
What is also keeping the actor’s spirits high is the fact that he is sharing screen space with superstar Salman Khan in the third instalment of the Race franchise.
Talking about working with Salman, Saqib says it is fascinating to interact with the star, who loves sharing stories and anecdotes with people on the set.
“Initially, it is intimidating but once you break the ice with him then he is the best guy you can hang out with. He is so much fun. His stories are legendary and more than that the way he tells his stories, with so much passion and love, is fascinating. He is a very caring person. He makes sure you are always well fed. If he is eating, then he makes sure you also eat. He checks up on what you are eating. He got into the kind of work out I was doing. He gave me tips,” revealed Saqib Saleem.
The young actor says underneath the image of a superstar, lies the most real guy that makes Salman different from anyone he has ever worked with.
“People just see the image of a superstar but if they get to hang out with him, they will realise he is one of the most awesome guys you will ever come across. He is just so real that you feel God does not make guys like him anymore. He doesn’t make such real guys anymore. He (Salman) just says what he feels.”