Zain Khan Durrani
Ittefaq (means ‘chance’ in English) seems to be Zain Khan Durrani’s favourite word as he gears up for the release of his first film, based on the theme of romance in the age of social media. For someone who grew up in Kashmir with no access to films or theatre, the idea of becoming an actor was a far-fetched one. Until a friend from Mumbai sent him a WhatsApp text informing him about an audition call. “I auditioned for that film and it wasn’t Kucch Bheege Alfaaz. At that time Onir was making Shab and looking for his male lead,” he says. “I would watch others give their shots and wonder when my turn would come,” says Durrani who went on to assist Onir on Shab(2017). Onir knew that Durrani could act and while he was assisting him, the director decided that he will play Alfaz, a reclusive RJ, who has experienced heartbreak in the past.
The actor writes Urdu poetry as well, which he shares on Instagram. “Onir suggested I should write my own poems for the film but I couldn’t write when I was told to. So the poems were written by the writer Abhishek Chatterjee as well as Onir’s niece,” he says.
It’s been 3 years since Durrani came to the city of dreams, which he says has been kind to him. Looking up at the sky, he says, “The future that I had dreamt of for years arrived the day I began shooting. The journey has begun. I refuse to call it a struggle because its not a struggle when you are pursuing something you love.”
“I think everyone should find love,” says National Award-winning actress Geetanjali Thapa. “I loved the character of Archie when I first read the script but I wanted to know more about her. And when Onir narrated the script of Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz to me, I knew I had to do the film,” she says.
Archie is a spirited woman who has leucoderma. Thapa found this aspect complex and interesting. She liked the fact that the story wasn’t around the condition, or that it wasn’t played up to arouse sympathy. “This skin condition that Archie has is just another layer of the person that she is. And I like that Onir treated it with respect and yet didn’t emphasise on it to get the audience sympathy.” She says that its this quality in Archie that makes her a person everyone would empathise with.
Thapa finds Onir to be a collaborative director and one who really seeks to understand his actors through workshops. The experience in the workshop has translated into convincing chemistry on screen, especially with the character of Apu (played by Shray Tiwari). “I want to work with people who I can be friends with, like Onir, people I can meet later as well, people who become a part of my life,’ she says.
Echoing her character, she says that she wishes for connections in real life as well, through her work. “I believe in connections that happen out of the blue. I think everyone wishes for them.”
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