Cancer Research UK
Mental Health Media
Elephant Atta
College of Policing

Huma Quereshi: I like being part of only honest cinema

Gurinder Chaddha’s period film Viceroy’s House which in India is released under the title Partition: 1947, will have Huma Quereshi playing the role of a Muslim woman who is a translator to Lord Mountbatten, played by Hugh Bonneville. Speaking about her role to a leading online news agency, Huma said, “I play a Muslim girl called Aalia Noor. She works as a translator for Lord Mountbatten and is in love with a Hindu boy. The country is getting divided and I had to express lot of pain and angst inside me. I showed my anger and frustration through my dupatta, which Gurinder loved and selected me for the role.” (Huma laughs)

“Gurinder, then had me and my co-star Manish (Dayal, an American film and television actor and producer) read the lines together as our chemistry was very important. It was interesting to watch Manish rehearse. He is an intense actor and he would rehearse a lot,” added the actor.

On talking about working with Gurinder Chaddha for the first time, Huma said that Gurinder Chaddha is an extremely passionate director who has been working on the film since nine years. Huma said,“She is a force of nature. For a female director to imagine, envisage and make such a huge film was a struggle especially since she is from an Asian origin. I like working with strong people because you tend to grow with them when you discuss and debate over character, looks, scenes…Her energy and process is very different. She is also a very specific director which translates in every frame of the film. She gives her actors a lot of space and lets us interpret and translate the scene the way we want to. It was an enjoyable experience.”

As Huma had to work on her accent for the film, she said ,“I didn’t have to read much but Gurinder wanted very specific 1947 British way of speaking English for which I saw a lot of videos of freedom fighters and leaders like Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Sarojini Naidu. Since it’s a period film, I had to get everything right — from clothes to hair to style of conversing with my father, with my boyfriend — all this required a lot of preparation.”

Huma further added, “Gurinder feels I have an old world face and that I could look like a girl from the 1940s, so I have no contribution in it, and the director had already worked a lot on the look of my character. But I am a very collaborative actor. If I don’t get to give suggestions I feel that my hands are tied.”

Huma is a huge fan of Hugh Bonneville who plays the role of Lord Mountbatten in the film. Meeting him was a dream come true for Huma. Talking about the same Huma said, “We would talk about politics at dinner after filming. He was very keen to know about what is going on in India in terms of the political atmosphere now and how relevant the film is.”

When asked if the subject of Partition made her emotional, to which Huma replied, “Absolutely” and continued to say, “It’s important to tell this story to show there is no point of dividing people as it is just going to create more bloodshed and violence. Partition happened 70 years ago but we haven’t really learnt anything. Every few years we keep making the same mistakes again and again. In this film we have unmasked the biggest conspiracy that ever happened. Why did partition happen, we probably don’t know the right reasons.”

The 31 year old actress who claims to be the product of Anurag Kashyap’s cinema said that Gangs of Wasseypur was her perfect feature film debut as an actor. Huma said, “It was very relatable. It went to Cannes, won international appreciation and was dubbed in various languages.”

Huma will be next seen in an action drama film Kaala which also stars Rajnikant. Speaking further about her being choosy with the films, she said, “I like working with good makers who don’t dress up a film with stars, budget, glamour… I like being part of only honest cinema.”

Huma who wants to work with directors Rajkumar Hirani and Anand L Rai, believes that ‘interesting’ has become the new mainstream, and that the difference between mainstream and off-beat is no more existing. Talking about the same she said, “The box office is supporting films with good content and engaging stories. Audience palate is changing. Earlier, very few content-driven films were made but now it is a norm, not an exception. It is a good sign and I am happy that I am part of this new wave of cinema. Cast and budget have merely become gimmicks. Good product is the need of the hour and it will be very exciting for me to see how the audience receives Partition:1947.