She hit headlines for her quirky and out- of-the-box looks that she designed for Sonam Kapoor in Aisha five years ago. Now, style icon Pernia Qureshi is stepping forward to make her own acting debut in a film, Jaanisaar (earlier titled Raqs) that is set in the pre-independence era.
A trained Kuchipudi dancer under Raja and Radha Reddy, Qureshi will be seen portraying the role of a courtesan in the film that also marks the return of Muzaffar Ali as a film-maker after more than a decade and a half.
“It was Muzaffar uncle who gave me the confidence to believe in myself as an actor,” says Qureshi, who loved the idea of doing the film because it requires her to dance. “I started with Kathak and then switched to Kuchipudi. The whole process of switching from Kuchipudi to Kathak again for the film was really great. What excited me more was that I had to work with legendary Kathak exponents like Birju Maharaj and Kumudini Lakhia, which is like a big opportunity,” she remarks, as she also goes on to talk about Ali’s sense of style that he has followed in the film.
“The film is set in the 1870s — 20 years after the first Mutiny — and Muzaffar uncle has keenly designed each shot, making sure that the aesthetics are right and matches the era that is being shown.
We have shot the film in Lucknow, Kotwara, Rampur and other areas in Uttar Pradesh and at a few places in Delhi at her- itage buildings that were constructed in or around the same era when the film is set,” she informs.
Quiz her about comparisons being made with Umrao Jaan (1981) as it was also directed by Ali in which Rekha played a courtesan, she says that comparisons are inevitable and do not affect her. “My character is fiery, stylish, fun and intelligent and is very different from Umrao Jaan. This film has a very individual story. But is the music as good? Yes it is! Is the film as beautiful? Yes it is!,” says Qureshi, who agrees that since it is helmed by the same person, it can have similar elements as the 1981 film but it’s story and treatment is completely different.
Talking about Pakistani heart-throb, Imran Abbas Naqvi, who makes his debut in Indian film industry with Jaanisaar, Qureshi says that the team was keen to rope in the actor. “Imran is very tal- ented and is the protagonist of the film. He is the life of Jaanisar,” says Qureshi and adds, “It became a dream team for Muzaffar uncle when Imran came on board.”
She believes that Naqvi’s flawless acting clubbed with his good looks that has been accentuated with the way Meera and Muzaffar Ali have designed his character, will definitely make him a rage.
As for herself, for the time being, Qureshi is just looking forward to the release of the film in May, which will decide the course of her acting career