Saqib Saleem on Crackdown: Tried aping Sanjay Dutt's walk

Updated: 29 September, 2020 08:11 IST | Letty Mariam Abraham | Mumbai

Saqib Saleem talks about attempting action for the first time in his career as he plays a RAW agent in Crackdown.

Saqib Saleem
Saqib Saleem

Saqib Saleem's character Riyaaz Pathan is a man of few words. In contrast to this character trait, Saleem usually enjoys a hearty conversation. While "over-critical" of his work, Saleem is upbeat about Voot Select's Crackdown that sees him try his hand at the action. In a chat with mid-day, he talks about prepping for the RAW agent act in the Apoorva Lakhia-directed venture and why he is unfazed by comparisons to other thrillers.

Edited excerpts from the interview.

It took a while for Crackdown to drop online post the show's announcement.
The series has a lot of VFX, which took a fair amount of time. Also, every studio was shut for several months due to the pandemic. I have seen the show in bits and pieces during the dubbing. Personally, I am over-critical of my work. However, I have received encouraging feedback from the industry folk and my friends in Delhi.

A still from Crackdown
A still from Crackdown

Is the show based on real incidents?
While it is inspired by real events, we have fictionalised it. The series revolves around unsung heroes of the country, who try to identify threats to the country and eliminate them before people get to know of them. They work relentlessly behind the scenes.

Last year, Manoj Bajpayee's The Family Man set a benchmark in this genre. Are you worried about comparisons?
I am an actor and have been compared to someone or the other all my life. I do not get affected by that. If I am compared to somebody as good as Manoj Bajpayee, I'll be more than happy. I am a huge fan of The Family Man.

You are seen in an action avatar for the first time in your career.
I went out of my way to get the physicality and emotional quotient of Riyaaz Pathan right. My character is dealing with his past demons, and yet has to do the job to the best of his ability. Action is like dancing — once you get the hang of it, it gives you an adrenaline rush. I would often come back to the hotel with bruises, but I wasn't complaining because I was having fun. Since last year, I have been training in kickboxing, which came handy. Action director Javed Karim assigned three fighters who trained me for four months.

Did you seek inspiration from any actor to play the role?
While the story is rooted in logic and doesn't go over the top, you will see a lot of heroism on the show. I would often go back to Sanjay Dutt's performances to get closer to my character. I tried aping his walk.

Was it unnerving to shoot amid the pandemic?
It gave me a big high to be back on set after five months. But the first two days were unnerving. I felt I was on a sci-fi film set — everybody was wearing shields, gloves, and PPE suits. I was nervous about how I would get into the skin of my character with the pandemic playing at the back of my mind. Over a schedule of 33 days, I must have undergone six to seven tests.

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First Published: 29 September, 2020 07:24 IST

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