Mumbai Lunchbox: Actors Kubbra Sait and Ali Fazal bond over food in Bandra
Actors Kubbra Sait and Ali Fazal discuss treading the line between films and web shows
When actor Kubbra Sait walks in wearing cutesy bejwelled cat ears on her head, actor Ali Fazal is quick to tell her, "You are too posh." The two reminisce about days of low bank balances; it's tough to miss the chemistry that lights up the room. "This friendship goes back to his first movie. I remember interviewing him on the red carpet and telling myself, 'Wow! What a good looking boy'."
"I remember reaching out to her when I wanted to try anchoring as it is good money," recalls Ali, referring to Kubbra's popularity as a host. "In a broad sense, we are each other's cheerleaders. He does something good, I text him. And he does the same thing," is how she summarises their friendship.
The two quickly pick their dishes at JLWA in Bandra, and carry on from where they left of.
Dhara: You have worked on web shows before Sacred Games and Mirzapur (Ali's forthcoming series produced by Farhan Akhtar). Do you regret doing any of them?
Ali: Everybody has regrets. I
remember sitting in a cafe in Bandra and going through a script this one time. I was desperately trying to find one reason to do it. But sadly, not the content, but my low bank balance made me do it.
Kubbra: I have had my share.
Ali: But what's the next step for you, movies or web shows?
Kubbra: I want movies. I think one movie a year, banta hai. I want to be a filmwala too.
Ali: The good part is that it's not downmarket anymore. Like earlier, you would be labelled if you worked on TV, 'You have three houses, but no life.' But quality content on the web has changed the perception.
Dhara: Right, but did you still have doubts about acting for the web?
Kubbra: There is an audience for the kirana store and for a gourmet food store. I am fine being part of both.
Ali: I respect the celluloid more than any other platform, but the quick access to content that the Internet provides is amazing. You cannot live in a shell today.
Kubbra: I have never put all my eggs in one basket, since the time I came to this city. I have also done shows that I am not proud of.
Ali: Actually when the web platform first came in India, filmmakers thought, 'let us put as much sex as we can in these shows'. We were so frustrated with the censor board, that the first few shows showed everything! You could say f***t**d and get away. Slowly, people came to their senses. And that's how cinema should be too, unaffected. But you can't watch it with a five-year-old and then say you are offended.
Kubbra: He's right. After Sacred Games, people constantly asked me about the nudity. I feel, don't dictate what somebody should watch or not. Don't belittle the beautiful thought. There is gravitas to it.
Ali: And we never question English films for it. Only our women shouldn't do it.
Kubbra: But web series are giving us that power now to say what we want; it's a blank canvas. The good thing is that the audience will write you off if you produce sh*t.
Dhara: So is it better or are we still producing sh*t??
Ali: It's going to take some time, but the web is going to be huge.
Kubbra: We have a better audience, smarter technology and better content now.
The food arrives — mutton rogan josh arancini, bhuna ghost mini sliders, nimboo kali mirch chicken and ghee roast chicken steak roll.
Kubbra: I love the arancini, and the meat in the sliders.
Ali: The arancini is my pick too.
Kubbra: But I really miss my south Indian food in Mumbai. I want a good dosa place and Andhra joints to open here.
Dhara: What about the Udupi restaurants in Matunga?
Kubbra: They are not like the ones in Bangalore.
Ali: Since I am from Lucknow, I will never find authentic North Indian food here. But the rest of the food culture is great here.
Kubbra: Okay, now Ali it's my turn to ask you, when did you finally know you were famous?
Ali: I got calls from a television channel after 3 Idiots about people committing suicide because of the film. I went into depression for two months because I thought I was responsible. On a global scale it happened with Victoria & Abdul, during promotions. People in Venice who knew me and wanted my autographs.
Kubbra: How did you deal with it?
Ali: I had Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis and Gary Oldman travelling with me to keep me grounded. What about you?
Kubbra: When I hit 100k followers on Instagram. [both laugh]
Dhara: With followers also come the comments...
Ali: You've got to make light of it, but also face them. Because it can turn into harassment, I have received death threats too.
Kubbra: I call them out in a sarcastic way, so it's rude but funny.
Ali: Many are paid trolls, people get paid `10 per tweet to troll and drive certain ideologies.
One thing you miss about your hometown?
Ali: Gulli cricket.
An actor you would like to work with?
Ali: Tom Hardy
Kubbra: Shah Rukh Khan, and a full feature with Ranveer Singh.
Ali: [Staring hard at Kubbra] Bahut sahi hai!
Kubbra: And Lisa Edelstein, I think we look alike.
Ali: Oh shut up [both laugh].
A web show you are currently hooked to?
Ali: Fauda is insane! I was hooked to Sacred Games last month, and Godless right now.
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