Saqib Saleem on Race 3's debacle: For days, I couldn't get out of my bed; I was facing depression
Saqib Saleem on making his web debut with crime drama Rangbaaz and how the debacle of Race 3 affected him
How would you describe your journey in the industry?
When I came to the city, I had no idea that I harboured an interest in acting. I am a Delhi boy who came here for love. I was lucky to get my first break [Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge] within a year. By my third film, I realised this is what I wanted to do for a living. That's when I took myself seriously. However, I lost my way somewhere in between. Barring Race 3, I have never been criticised for my work. It was the biggest film of my career; I had never faced so many cameras in my life or been exposed to so many journalists. While it did not satisfy me as an actor, I have no regrets about doing the film. When you get to work with Prem Bhai [Salman Khan], Mr India [Anil Kapoor], and Soldier [Bobby Deol], one can't have regrets.
How did the debacle of Race 3 affect you?
I am a person who reads every review. For days, I couldn't get out of my bed. My confidence was at an all-time low, and I began to question my skills. I was facing borderline depression, so much so that I stopped picking up my parents' calls. When I did content-driven films, no one recognised me. When Race 3 happened, people were suddenly interested in my life. So, I thought commercial cinema was the way to go. But every film is a learning experience.
Why did you opt for Rangbaaz?
I was done playing hero, and Rangbaaz gave me the opportunity to showcase my acting skills. I loved the script and more importantly, the research material. I read it in one night and was ready to give my nod.
How difficult was it to play a character as distanced from you - Shivprakash Shukla, a gangster from Gorakhpur?
Mentally, I still haven't let go of the character. I am scared to do so because I've loved the character. It's like eating a beef burger where I just can't have enough (laughs).
Do you empathise with your character?
I could not comprehend his sense of right and wrong. At times, I found myself judging him; but I realised if I did that, I wouldn't be able to play him. His right and wrong became my right and wrong. I learnt the dialect and diction used in Gorakhpur. I didn't feel anything for the character. He doesn't feel sorry for himself, so why should I?
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