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.
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.
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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.