‘Star kids have a name to live up to. I don’t have any such baggage’

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Saqib Saleem, 26, Actor
Saqib Saleem, 26, Actor

You’ve done a lot of TV commercials and now you’re getting into movies. How has the journey been so far?
It’s been great. I started off doing ramp shows but eventually I got into TV commercials and then got into films. I’ve always enjoyed being in front of the camera. It suits me and I want to keep doing that.

Seems like you’ve always been comfortable facing cameras…
No actually! The first commercial I did was for Tata Docomo and it didn’t go very well. I did another commercial for them after two months but at that time I went through a lot of self doubt because my first experience was not exactly perfect.

You were seriously into cricket at some point?
Yeah, at the under-19 level. In fact I got into Hindu College in Delhi through sports quota so I was 100% serious about it. But it became too competitive after a point. If one doesn’t get a certain score in a match, selection chances go down. Then there was pressure from all quarters to perform all the time… it became like work and ceased to be a sport. The point of playing a sport is to enjoy it and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Which is why I left it.

What is your character like in the movie Hawaa Hawaai?
The character’s name is Aniket. He is someone who used to be a champion skater himself when he was very young. But due to circumstances he couldn’t pursue his dreams. Later his older brother goes off abroad. But he sticks around and trains kids to skate instead.

So many star sons and daughters are breaking into Bollywood these days. Do you think this leads to a lot of unhealthy competition?
Not really. In any case they have more pressure to deal with because they have a name to live up to. I don’t have any such baggage. If I do well people will automatically notice me. If I don’t then at least there will not be any sense of persecution! So it’s only beneficial to be the underdog in this respect. I love being the underdog.

Any particular director you want to work with?
I want to be directed by Aditya Chopra. The way he understands love stories, I don’t think anyone else can. And I’m a sucker for love stories.

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