Warm and thoughtful, yet reticent — actress Huma Qureshi knows her mind and is unabashed about expressing her views. But, the Delhi girl plays with caution, and marches to her own beat — true to her bio on Twitter. From believing how social media can be a cesspool of toxicity and revealing a side to her that’s very South Indian to sharing her excitement ahead of her Tamil debut Kaala with none other than the Thalaivar, Rajinikanth; Huma is stepping up her game at her own pace. The actress is in the city for Democracy Wall, a free-speech campus initiative to be held at Jain University in Jayanagar. In a no-holds barred interview with Bengaluru Chronicle, she shares the inside track with us...
About namma ooru: “It’s one of my favourite cities after my hometown. I love coming back to Bengaluru. I’ve had family here. My bua sort of raised me and she was an amazing cook who used to make puliyogare and bisi bele bath. There’s a side of me that’s very South Indian. I’ve grown up eating that kind of food. I have a close affinity to Bengaluru and its cuisine,” begins Huma, who is in the city for an event where she intends to address issues pertinent to freedom of speech, women empowerment and the like. On that note, Huma is unabashed about expressing her views on the dark side of social media and what empowerment really means to her.
‘Don’t talk trash just ‘cause you can’: Run a close eye through Huma’s official Twitter ID — and you know the actress is quite vocal and active. And she’s gotten immune to trolls, too. She says, “It’s definitely upsetting. Some of the things said (on social media) are outright vengeful. People take something you’ve said out of context and apply their own prejudices and their own narrow colloquial view of the world. I’ve come to terms with the fact that people talk s*it on social media because they can, but as a policy, I’ve started blocking hatred/haters. I don’t need that kind of toxicity around me. I’m a strong believer in freedom of speech. We are all empowered to opine. But the freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to offend. We live in a civilised democratic society; However, we need to first be civil to each other. Just because you can hide behind a twitter ID or an Instagram ID does not mean you can take your frustration out to the larger world. Trollers need to take a chill pill.”
On striking gold with Thalaivar: Huma’s Tamil debut Kaala is slated to hit the theatres in April. On sharing the screen with Rajinikanth, she says, “I’m very blessed to have gotten the opportunity with Rajini Sir. This movie has a very special place in my heart.” The language proved to be a challenge but wasn’t a hurdle. “I don’t know Tamil. I had to memorise the dialogues. Because I’m a theatre artiste, I tried to apply some theatre principles and I had an amazing rapport with my director and his associate director Jenny. She was my accent teacher, helping me understand the character. With different languages, you need to think differently, emote differently. I truly believe actors need to have a very supportive crew to understand the nuances of what they were actually doing. I lucked out!”
While work and her new clothing line takes up most of her time, Huma isn’t that much of a social butterfly either. She keeps her circle close and is known to share a special rapport with ace golfer Anisha Padukone. “I do have friends in the industry. But, Anisha is like a little sister to me more than a buddy,” she comments.
Addressing the elephant in the room — the insensitivity surrounding Sridevi’s death, Huma concurs, “It’s time to take individual responsibility of our speech as we are losing our sense of dignity as a society. I’m deeply saddened and shocked. My heart goes out to the family — to her daughters and Boney Sir. It’s a great loss. One can only empathise with them and give them the space to mourn and breathe. It’s very shocking how a lot of people are jumping to conclusions, and writing a lot of trash. This is also a very good opportunity for us as a society to reflect upon what we think is acceptable under the garb of media. People shouldn’t lose their sense of humanity and dignity for a few clicks.” Prod her with the usual question on what’s next, and Huma likes to keep it discreet. “I’d like to keep you surprised,” she signs off with a smile.