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Huma Qureshi: ‘I am often told, don’t increase your screen age’

Updated on: 03 March,2024 04:37 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Priyanka Sharma |

Huma, who plays a middle-aged politician in Maharani 3, on challenging industry’s sexist notion that heroines should stick to young and glamorous roles

Huma Qureshi: ‘I am often told, don’t increase your screen age’

Huma Qureshi

It doesn’t matter how much time Huma Qureshi spends away from her character Rani Bharti in Maharani. Two seasons on, she knows the part so intimately that all she needs is to drape a saree to become her again. “Once I am in that saree, my walk changes. Our foundation for the show has been so solid that now it’s about making a taller, shinier building on it,” smiles the actor.

A still from Maharani 3A still from Maharani 3

In the SonyLIV series, Qureshi plays a homemaker, who is forced into politics and soon rises to become Bihar’s chief minister. For the actor, who is gearing up for the third season’s release, the role is special as it resonates not only with girls for its message of women empowerment, but also with boys. “I get so many messages from girls and guys, who feel connected to my character. I met a man in Darjeeling, who told me, ‘You have played a fantastic character. You will never die.’”

This love serves as a validation for the actor’s creative choices. In an industry that discourages female stars from playing older characters lest they get stereotyped, Qureshi has not shied away from playing a mother in Maharani, or a middle-aged homemaker finding her calling in cooking in Tarla (2023). She says it’s important to shut out the noise and follow one’s heart. “I am told all the time, ‘Don’t increase your screen age. Don’t play a mother.’ When Maharani came to me, I was thinking whether I should play this character because she is non-glamorous and a mother of three kids, which is used almost like a slur for an actress. So, I was scared. But the material was so beautiful that I thought I would be a fool if I let go of such an iconic part for some preconceived idea of what a heroine should be doing.” She asserts that female actors should shatter these notions. “It’s unfortunate that women—and I count myself too—are made to feel that we can’t do roles because it will slot us in some way. We don’t need to always look a certain kind. If Vicky Kaushal can do a Sam Bahadur [2023] or Allu Arjun can do a non-glamorous part like Pushpa and not get slotted, why do we only expect women to pretend to look 19?”

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