Disney Plus Hotstar is set to release its next multiplex offering Khuda Haafiz today evening at 7:30 pm. Starring Vidyut Jammwal and Shivaleeka Oberoi in the lead roles, the Faruk Kabir directorial will also star Shiv Panditt, Annu Kapoor and Aahana Kumra.
Inspired by real life events, Khuda Haafiz follows the struggle of Sameer Chaudhary (Jammwal), who races against time to rescue his kidnapped wife Nargis (Oberoi) from sex traffickers. As he lands in the foreign land, he meets other people who help him in his mission.
Shiv Panditt, last seen in Selection Day 2, will essay the role of an Arab commando in the film. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the actor talked about Khuda Haafiz, its release on an OTT platform, equation with Vidyut and more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What made you take up Khuda Haafiz?
I think it was the conviction of Faruk Kabir as a director. There was something about his conviction. He knew exactly what he was making.
Tell us something about your character Faiz Abu Malik.
He is an Arab commando, a senior guy in the internal security service. For him, everything is black and white, and he goes by the book. He is a no nonsense person. I had to really work hard to physically transform myself. He is a lean and ripped officer. But most importantly, I wanted to sound and seem convincing. Most Arab characters have been quite caricaturish in our films. I remember Inaamulhaq did a fabulous job in Airlift. I wanted to also make sure I come across as authentic as possible. I really worked hard on my phonetics and language. I would be elated if people feel I convinced them with my portrayal.
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Meet Faiz Abu Malik, an Arab Security Agency Officer who helps Sameer in his quest to find Nargis. #KhudaHaafiz streaming from 14th August on @disneyplushotstarvip ••• @mevidyutjammwal // @annukapoor // @shivaleekaoberoi // @shivpanditt // @aahanakumra ••• @farukkabir9 // @jitanharmeetsingh // @mithoon11 // @andy_long_nguyen // #ShahaabAlam ••• @kumarmangatpathak // @abhishekpathakk // @arradhyamaan // @panorama_studios // @zeemusiccompany
Since Vidyut is there, we can expect a lot of action. How much of it will feature you?
There’s a lot of thrill, action and surprises, and I am not telling you everything (laughs). But trust me, Vidyut will be in a never-seen-avatar. Even Ahana and me will be in a very different space, from what you have seen of us. Although, it remains to be seen whether the audience likes it or not.
How was it working with Vidyut?
I had bumped into Vidyut a couple of times during award functions but didn’t really know him. We did take time to get acquainted and now we are genuinely great friends. I think every film is an emotional journey and I am glad I could be part of Khuda Haafiz. I really can’t wait for the audience to witness the film. It’s releasing on a fantastic weekend and I hope more and more people watch it.
While you are not new to the medium, what is your take on Khuda Haafiz having a digital premiere?
I did a Netflix film Loev. It was a very different character and I got messages from people from countries we don’t even talk much about. It was the first time they saw me thanks to the OTT medium. So I know the reach is phenomenal but that film’s content was such that it would have benefited from the platform. However, we shot Khuda Haafiz in a huge scale for the big screen. So initially when I heard about it, I was disappointed. I spoke to Vidyut who told me that this is what it is, as we don’t know when theaters will open and if people will even come. It was an informed decision by the makers for everyone’s benefit. But given it’s such a larger than life film, I would really want it to get re-released in theaters.
Khuda Haafiz and Lootcase weren’t part of the Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex announcement event. While Vidyut was quite vocal about his displeasure on social media, what was your take on it?
Not particularly in this case but representation is very important. Whatever happened with our film, giving it the benefit of the doubt, it could have been an oversight. But it wasn’t received well by the audience as that demarcated the line that we are launching these films, and the others are ‘also’ part of it. One must understand that 300-400 people have worked on these films for years, and it’s a proud and happy moment for them. They also want that platform. There should have been a parity of representation for sure.
Shiv, what keeps you from taking up more work?
Honestly, initially I would also keep asking myself that. However, I have always said no because I believed that I am made for something better. My instincts have never failed me, and once I read the script, I know whether it’s appealing to me or not. I want to be part of projects that benefit me. One thing that kept me going was that I never stopped working. If a film didn’t work out, I did a web show or a short film but I have worked continuously. And now, I have a feeling that Khuda Haafiz will be well appreciated, and so would be my role. And hereon, you will see me in more projects.
During the lockdown, people enjoyed the reruns of FIR. Any plans for you to come back on television?
It makes me so happy that people still remember me from FIR. Surprisingly, no one has seen me do comedy in films. I cannot really talk about it but maybe next year, you will get to see me do something related to that character.
And what about IPL?
If they call me, I would definitely go back. I think it was a great experience. Since it’s happening in Emirates and I have polished my Arabic, it would be quite interesting (laughs).
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