‘I always had the filmy keeda in me’
Zaheer Iqbal, who is making his debut with Notebook, talks about his mentor Salman Khan, how their equation has changed, and his dream to become an actor
Salman Khan’s production Notebook, a love story set in Kashmir, stars not one, but two newcomers. Apart from Mohnish Bahl’s daughter Pranutan, it also stars Zaheer Iqbal. When we catch up with Zaheer, he sounds a little nervous, “On Friday, the industry will know how good or bad I am as an actor although I have done a good job,” he says.
Not many know that Zaheer’s father and Salman have known each other for years. At Zaheer’s sister’s sangeet, Salman saw Zaheer perform and asked him to take up acting as a career. So how much has his equation changed with the actor since he got associated with him professionally? “As a child, I did not hang out much with him. He is dad’s childhood friend. And both of them used to be busy with their own work. Once in a while, dad used to take us to his sets. So I used to meet him once or twice a year. In fact, at my sister’s wedding, we had met after four years,” he says, adding, “But now the equation has completely changed. Now, I can call him my friend too. I can speak to him honestly, he knows my secrets and I seek advice from him even about my relationships without any awkwardness.”
The actor says that Bhai (Salman) has trained him and Pranutan on every aspect of the business including how to deal with criticism, trolls etc. “He has told us, ‘Never let success go to your head and failure to your heart. Everyone is going to say something about you but don’t get bogged down by the negatives and don’t get too excited about the positives either.’ He has prepared us well about everything,” says Zaheer.
Before joining films, Zaheer was into construction business but he always nurtured the dream of being on the big screen. “I always had the filmy keeda in me. I used to perform at weddings and if a friend called me to act in their diploma films or videos, I would gladly be there even if it was a half-a-second role. They always knew that this ‘nautanki’ will surely come. But I never pursued acting. Then came a point when I realised that I will take a break from construction business and start auditioning so that I can use my nautanki on screen,” he says.
The newbie says that the character he is playing is quite opposite of him. “And yet, we are similar in many ways. No one knows Kabir the way I do. You can’t just play a character, you have to know the history of that character and why s/he reacts in that particular manner. It was all thanks to Nitin sir and my coach Hemant Kher who gave his time and effort that I could prepare for the character,” he says before signing off.