A still from the series
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is perhaps a classic example of how a talented actor can shine, regardless of his screen time. Even in his latest offering Scoop, the spotlight may not be on him, but the actor will make you sit up and take notice. He plays the editor-in-chief of a newspaper in the Karishma Tanna-fronted Netflix series, which is helmed by Hansal Mehta and based on Jigna Vora's book, Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison. While he was happy to reunite with Mehta after Shahid (2013) and Chhalaang (2020), Ayyub admits that he was initially jittery about the role.
"I made a panic call to Hansal two days before the shoot, [asking him] how to shape the character of Imran. He calmed me down and explained how Imran would behave and talk. On set, he ragged me a lot, but he also took care of me," grins Ayyub. Grasping the role, he says, was tough since he hadn't read the source material nor did he have a direct reference for the character. "[As actors], we usually interact with entertainment journalists, [and our conversations] are always fun. But when playing an editor-in-chief, you have to showcase the calmness, the responsible nature, and the ability to work without hurting the sentiments of any party."
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Since making his debut with No One Killed Jessica (2011), the actor has played myriad roles. "I've consciously tried to [avoid being] stereotyped. It is natural to get similar roles. The benefit of working with Hansal is that he can imagine you in different parts. I had to go beyond my [range] as a performer for this role."