Tiger Zinda Hai actor Paresh Pahuja on debuting with YRF, Salman Khan’s memorable hug and why he loved playing ‘Azaan’

Paresh Pahuja, who debuts in Tiger Zinda Hai plays sniper Azaan Akbar. The Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif starrer has been directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. Here, Paresh talks about his journey from advertising to films.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi | Updated: January 4, 2018 8:08:34 pm

Paresh Pahuja in Tiger Zinda Hai. Paresh Pahuja, who debuted with Tiger Zinda Hai has already done numerous advertisements.

Remember Azaan Akbar who wanted to hoist the tricolour once the mission was over in Tiger Zinda Hai? It might be difficult to find your place in such a big film and in the same frame with Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, but Paresh Pahuja has been successful. The actor with the perfect charm and equally good acting skills played sniper Azaan in this actioner. Now, that the film has crossed Rs 250 crore just within 10 days of its release, Paresh is living his dream. “If your film releases and becomes successful, it means people have seen your work. I’ve been getting such beautiful messages. So these things enhance your confidence and you know what you are doing is right,” Paresh said in a candid and exclusive chat with indianexpress.com.

For a newcomer, it is a desire to enter Bollywood through a Yash Raj film or to work with a Khan. Paresh got both. His dream debut in Tiger Zinda Hai is exactly what anyone can ask for. In the film, Paresh’s Azaan is roped in the mission by Tiger aka Salman to rescue the group of nurses kept hostage by a terrorist organisation in Syria.

Tiger Zinda Hai actor Paresh Pahuja. Paresh Pahuja says he wants to win the Filmfare Best Debut award.

Paresh hails from Ahmedabad. He moved to Mumbai for studies and even got a job in advertising. Paresh reveals the point when he realised his actual calling was films. “I did theatre in college but didn’t know how to go about it. You are taught only one thing when you come from a middle-class family, about finding a job and getting married. But that didn’t go well with me, because until you satisfy your inner desire, you aren’t satisfied. So I kept changing jobs every 5-6 months because I felt I was not meant for all that,” he said.

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Paresh finally landed his first ad through friends who were casting directors. “The minute I was on a set, acting in an advertisement in front of a camera, I got all my answers, that this is it!,” he added. Paresh has been part of dozens of TVCs either as an actor or as a voice-over artiste.

Tiger Zinda Hai cast Paresh Pahuja in a still from Tiger Zinda Hai along with Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Angad Bedi and others.

Paresh, who is also fond of singing, wanted to debut as a lead. “When Tiger happened, I wasn’t told anything. Shanoo (Sharma, casting director for YRF) said I saw your ad. She called me for an audition without any brief,” Paresh shared while recalling his first brush with YRF. Later, when Shanoo offered him Azaan, that’s when he got to know he had bagged Salman-Katrina’s Tiger Zinda Hai.

Also read | Salman Khan is a beautiful human being: Tiger Zinda Hai villain Sajjad Delafrooz

“I had a thought in my head that being a Salman Khan film how much impact will I be able to make. But, the minute I read the script, I was mind-blown. Azaan was something that sounded so beautiful with a lot of meaning to it. I realised my part was not dependent on anyone, he is not like the hero’s friend. Azaan had his own identity. He was brought on the mission because Tiger needed him. And above that he is a Muslim whose patriotism is questioned. There are only 3% Muslims in Indian Army. So, Ali (Abbas Zafar) had very beautifully touched upon all these little things,” Paresh explained.

Paresh Pahuja in Tiger Zinda Hai.

Paresh and others had to undergo martial arts training and learn hand combat to fight without weapons. “We used to train with actual riffles which were 10-12 kgs, so that it looks very natural onscreen. This training was very important. By the end of it, we are actually soldiers. Now if you give me any riffle, I can fire,” he quipped.

So how was it working with Salman Khan and he shared an instance from the film’s sets. “We were shooting this underwater scene in an oil tanker. Outside it was 50 degrees. So to cool the water they had put ice in it but it became very cold. I’m someone who cannot tolerate cold and I started shivering. Salman saw my state and he didn’t say anything. He asked his spot boy to get a black coffee. When the coffee came he gave it to me. I was surprised. That was such a beautiful moment,” he said.

Paresh Pahuja in Tiger Zinda Hai. Paresh Pahuja fondly remembers his first shot in Tiger Zinda Hai with Salman Khan.

Talking about his first shot Paresh shared how Salman’s one hug imbibed confidence in him. “We had to walk into the factory, that’s it. After the shot Salman looked at the monitor, got up and gave me a tight hug. That was very genuine. He does these things very unconsciously which shows how caring he is as a person. That was my first day. I was under this impression of Salman’s larger than life personality. And then he did something with a human touch, that was beautiful. So you know they say ‘Being Human’, he is actually like that. His human values are so in place,” Paresh said.


Paresh also told us that Katrina’s dedication towards her work impressed everyone. “She has been around for 10 years and still has the same passion. She makes you very comfortable as a co-actor. It is very important that in your first film, if you don’t meet the right people, you form the wrong impression of the entire industry. For me it has been the other way round,” he said.

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Before writing this piece, I tried to Google his name and the moment I typed ‘Paresh’ the first search item was – Paresh Pahuja! Needless to say, he has become one name everyone wants to know about. He is trending on IMDb and his female fans following is growing by the day. “People still tell me the name Azaan suits you more than Paresh. That means you’ve lived your part convincingly well,” the actor believes.

Check out some photos of Paresh Pahuja:




So what’s next from his kitty? “I want the Filmfare Best Debut award. I’ve a list of dream directors. I want to be the Raju Hirani of acting. I want to work with Adi sir, play his lead. I want to be a part of a Yash Raj romance.” Indeed, Paresh is chalking out his career one step at a time.

Here’s wishing Paresh Pahuja, all the best!

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