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Thursday, January 28, 2021

First of Many: Zakir Hussain revisits Firdaus

This week's First of Many features Zakir Hussain. In the 61st edition of our exclusive series, the actor talks about his first project, Firdaus.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi | December 23, 2020 7:27:35 am
zakir hussain actor firdausZakir Hussain-starrer Furdaus aired on Doordarshan. (Photos: Express Archives and PR Handout)

Actor Zakir Hussain has built a remarkable filmography across industries over the years. His Hindi film credits include titles like Sarkar, Ek Hasina Thi, Darna Zaruri Hai, Black Friday, Johnny Gaddaar and Paan Singh Tomar. More recently, he played remarkable roles in Andhadhun, Singham Returns, Badlapur and Holiday.

In the coming days, Hussain will be seen in digital shows like Sandwiched Forever, Chacha Vidhayak Hain Humare Season 2 and Thullay. He also has Satyameva Jayate 2 with John Abraham and Indian 2 with Kamal Haasan in his kitty.

But how did it all begin for Zakir Hussain? Here’s what the actor shared:

1. What was your first project? How did it come to you?

I was 28. One of my NSD teachers was involved in a TV show titled Firdaus, based on Kashmir’s problems. She told me the team needs actors and so I should go and meet them. There wasn’t any audition process back then, but I did enact some scenes casually. They liked me and soon after, I got selected as its protagonist. The shooting began as soon as I passed out from NSD in 1993.

The problem of Kashmir was at its peak in 1993-1994. And the word ‘firdaus’ means heaven. So the show highlighted the advent of terrorism in this heaven. Its story revolved around a family of shawl weavers, and how the college-going son Ashraf gets trapped and brainwashed to become a terrorist. And I played Ashraf. It had guns and fights. The government only provided us with the logistics for the show. It got telecast on Doordarshan in 1994.

actor zakir hussain Zakir Hussain got selected for Firdaus soon after passing out from NSD. (Photo: PR Handout)

2. What do you remember of your first day on set?

I don’t remember much. I think the first day of shoot was in Chamba. It was also shot in places like Khajiar and Dalhousie, as shooting in Kashmir was not allowed back then.

3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

I was excited and confident to do something different as this was a new zone for me. I learned the technicalities of the camera like my close-up and my OS (over-the-shoulder shot) from this serial. Being a student of theatre and not knowing much about TV, I had an interest in learning all this.

4. How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again?

It was written by Piyush Mishra. It had Rohitash Gaud, Hemant Pandey, Saurabh Shukla and many others. All of us did plays together at Mandi House and were new back then. We began our professional journey almost together. So working on this show was a lot of fun. Whenever we meet, we talk about the show and our theatre days.

5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?

Playing Ashraf won’t suit my age today (laughs). And whenever you go back and watch your work, you always find scope for improvement. In theatre, you can improve something on stage the next day. But in television or film, what is done is done. It’s the director’s call, even if you wish to redo it.

Also Read | First of ManyGajraj Rao | Vivek Oberoi | Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub | Rajpal Yadav Rajeev Khandelwal Govind Namdev Neena Gupta Pankaj Tripathi Satish Kaushik Mohit Raina Shahid Kapoor Anang Desai Jimmy Sheirgill Tabu Harsh Chhaya Gaurav Gera Saurabh Shukla | Deepak Dobriyal Seema Pahwa Annup Sonii Sayantani Ghosh Annu Kapoor Ajay Devgn Vishal Malhotra Rahul Khanna | Ashutosh Rana Jaaved Jaaferi Ashwath Bhatt Varun Badola Renuka Shahane Taapsee Pannu Manoj Bajpayee Milind Soman Rajkummar Rao Akhilendra Mishra | Rohit Roy Suchitra Pillai | Gulshan Grover | Abhay Deol | Ashwini Kalsekar | Adil Hussain | Shweta Tiwari | Purab Kohli | Mita Vasisht | Vipin Sharma | Divya Dutta | Jaideep Ahlawat | Archana Puran Singh | Daya Shankar Pandey | Hina Khan | Rajesh Tailang | Urvashi Dholakia | Manish Chaudhari | Sheeba Chadha | Karanvir Bohra | Bhairavi Raichura Pratik Gandhi | Konkona Sen Sharma | Gurmeet Choudhary | Lakshmi Manchu 

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

There’s no one actor as such. As much as I like Dilip Kumar, I like KL Saigal. And the cinema of today reached us passing through these artistes. Every actor has 3-4 remarkable performances in their career.

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