Saqib Saleem had an impressive end to 2021 with his portrayal of the formal Vice captain of the Indian cricket team, Mohinder Amarnath in Kabir Khan’s ’83. Now, he has started this year on a diverse note as he plays a thief who gets caught in the lockdown after a huge robbery in Ruchir Arun’s story Teen Tigada, which is a part of the anthology Unpaused: Naya Safar. While I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Saqib play cricket on screen in ’83, I am now looking forward to seeing this new facet of him as the film releases today on Amazon Prime Video.
All the stories of Unpaused are set in the lockdown period, and while the cast shot for it after the second wave of Covid in the country, I wondered if shooting for it brought back the emotions that Saqib would have felt during the first lockdown. As I ask him this, the actor answers in the affirmative.
“All the anxiety, sadness or solitude that I had experienced while in the lockdown, actually helped me prepare for the film. It had been a quick turnaround from the moment I read the script, to meeting Ruchir, to doing workshops and then eventually shooting the film. It was all done is a very short span of 15 days. It’s not like we got a lot of time to prepare, but we’ve all been prepping for the film since the last two years. Whether it be the actors, the director or the technicians, all of us felt it. Subconsciously, the fact that we all lived it, really helped bring the scenario out.”
And the actor insists that the remote location that they shot the film in, actually added to that experience, helping them connect to the emotions much more.
“The location that we shot the film in was also this isolated place. There is a line in the film that goes like, ‘yahaan to kutta bhi nahi aata, insaan kahaan milenge,’ and it indeed was a place like this. So, when we were there, it really did put us in a headspace that we were isolated from the world.”
The lockdown was challenging for all of us. To be able to adapt to living on one’s own, cut off from the outside world in real time, and just being a part of one another’s life only virtually, took some time to get used to. But when I ask Saqib about the biggest challenge he had to face, he goes introspecting.
The actor shares,
“The biggest challenge for me was to get comfortable with myself again. I was about 20 when I had come to Mumbai and ever since then, I feel like every morning I am just going here and there trying to figure things out. There was never a time to work on my genuine thoughts because everything in life came with a deadline. So, during the lockdown, I finally got a lot of time with myself after a long time. Thus some clarity came to me about my life and what I want to do. I realized who my actual friends are as it gave a lot of time to think and analyse why is anything happening in my life. But not just that, also a lot of good things came from that for me.”
Lockdown was indeed an introspective period for all of us and seeing that time on screen through these stories in Unpaused would make for an interesting watch. As for Saqib, he is a talent that I have always rooted for and with the choices he has been making, he just strengthens that belief in me that I put my faith in the right guy.