Actors and real life siblings Huma Qureshi and Saqib Saleem will be sharing screen space for the first time in Dobaara – See Your Evil. The film is an official remake of the popular Hollywood horror film Oculus. In a chat with Pandolin, the duo talk about the experience of working with a sibling, the lack of genuine horrors films in our country and how Oculus has been adapted for the Indian market.

Huma Qureshi

Huma Qureshi

Dobaara being an adaptation of Oculus, have you taken references from the original film to prepare for your role?

Dobaara is an official remake of Oculus. Relativity Media made this film in 2013 and it was a hit. They then wanted to make this film for the Indian market. We were approached for the film but at that point I hadn’t seen it. They asked me to watch it and if we liked it, they’d like my brother and I to be a part of it. So I thought that this could be fun. Saqib had already seen the film and he thought it’d be interesting. The premise of the film is very much like Oculus, but both the films are very different. We’ve made it Indian, we’ve made it emotional and very real.

How easy or difficult was it to work with your own brother?

It has its pros and cons. It was fun because Saqib is very spontaneous. It’s the first time a brother and sister are acting as brother – sister in a film, so I’m very excited about this film. There were also challenges. The point where you disconnect that this isn’t just a co-star, but also my sibling. That distinction was very difficult to make. I always looked at him as my brother and not my co-star.

Did you discover something about him over the course of the film?

That he is very protective. Even when he doesn’t say much, he’s always watching out for you. I think, that’s his wonderful quality. He’s very spontaneous and easy. A lot of actors like to talk about their process but Saqib isn’t like that at all.

Since you’ll were shooting a horror film, what was the atmosphere on the sets like?

If you’d see some of our making videos, you’d wonder if we were making a comedy film or a horror film (laughs).

You recently did a film called Viceroy’s House. Are you consciously moving towards Hollywood?

Not at all. There’s no conscious decision to move to Hollywood. I’m not looking for work there. It just happened to come my way, and it was a beautiful script. It’s all on luck, but if it’s an interesting project, then why not? The film is coming to India in July – August. It’s a beautiful love story about a Hindu boy, and Muslim girl during the Partition. I loved the script when I read it because it’s such an emotional film.

Saqib Saleem

Saqib Saleem

Saqib Saleem

How was the experience of teaming up with your sister Huma?

It wasn’t easy. When you go to do a film, you either meet your co-star 10 days before, or on the film set. So, there is a certain sense of discovery about your co-star during the course of the film. Over here, I knew my co-star since childhood. I had to find a middle ground to feel that she isn’t my sister; but a co-star with whom I’ve to act. And only if I maintain the balance, can I do the film. If I can’t maintain the balance, both of our performances would get affected. So it was very important to maintain that fine line. Huma & I love improvising.

You have largely done light-hearted roles while Dobaara is a major contrast to that. What was it that drew you to this film and role?

I don’t understand the strategy that first you do a certain film, then something else and so on. All I want to know is the story of the film. If I feeI that I can do it, then I will. I don’t understand the commercial value of a film. What drew me to this film was that in our country, we haven’t been able to crack the genre of horror. We add songs or anything. I love Arijit Singh, but sometimes you don’t need that in a horror film because it breaks the screenplay. So, our aim was to make a genuine horror film. I think there’s a huge audience for a horror film. If we cater to them, this (film) could be the opener of the segment in horror films.

Being an outsider, how hard or easy has your journey in the industry been?

It’s as hard as it is for your last film’s Friday. It’s simple logic. If my father has a restaurant business,  and I want to open a restaurant, it’s going to be easy for me. I’d be a fool if I don’t take that help. What is the point of my father being there and having done the same thing for 40 years? Rather than getting into a discussion whether nepotism exists or not, we should accept that it exists everywhere and move past it. Whether you’re a star kid or an outsider, if your film is a disaster, nothing matters.

Saqib Saleem and Huma Qureshi

Saqib Saleem and Huma Qureshi during the promotions of Dobaara

Is it still a struggle to find the right kind of films?

I’ll always try to prove myself. That’s how I am! Uou have to keep doing films and the struggle is not to find a film, but to find the right kind of film. When I’m on my deathbed, even if my films might not have earned 100 crore, but if people say that a few of my films were good, that’ll make me happy. Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan etc. have been in the industry for 25 years and have created a huge fan base. But it takes time to get there. Slow and steady wins the race. There’s no race for me, I just want to keep doing work.

What’s next in the pipeline?

I’m currently finishing a film with Tapsee Pannu, which will release in November.