» Movies » 'Abbas-Mustan never treated me like a son'

'Abbas-Mustan never treated me like a son'

By Jahnavi Patel
Last updated on: March 16, 2017 14:57 IST
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'The only time I went on set was during Badshah. I was very young at that time.'

'After being there for about an hour, I was bored and wanted to go. I couldn't watch it again and again, the retakes.'

But Mustafa Burmawalla could not stay away from the arc lights for long.

IMAGE: Mustafa Burmawalla and Kiara Advani in Machine

This Friday will see the launch of yet another star kid.

Mustafa Burmawala, the son of director Abbas Burmawala (who's a part of the Abbas-Mustan directorial duo) will make his acting debut with Machine.

He is still raw but totally Bollywood ready!

As we sit down to chat, Mustafa appears nervous and excited at the same time. 

Acting, incidentally, was never his thing. He wanted to direct.

He tells Jahnavi Patel/ why he changed his mind.
Do you think no one else can give the launch your father and uncle can give you?

No. Let me tell you one thing. I wasn’t into acting, I was into direction.

I was working on Machine and I would act out all the scenes. That's why I got this film.

When I heard the script, I realised it's so good, I wanted to do the film.

Once what happened, my cousin asked, 'Why are we looking for actors? Why can’t we cast Mustafa in this film?'

That’s how I got on board. It's dream come true.

WATCH: Mustafa gets candid. Video: Afsar Dayatar

How did acting happen if you wanted to become a director?

I did a film course at the New York Film Academy and directed a lot of short films -- I worked on 50-60 short films and got a lot of experience.

It used to be difficult to make the actors there understand, so I would act out the scenes.

That’s how I slowly got into it. When I came on set, I started assisting them (Abbas-Mustan). They would call me and ask me to read out a scene. I would enact them as well.

I would give them variations of the scenes as well.

When Machine was being made, I was still assisting them. Somewhere, I felt this is the film I would love to do, that I can’t get a script better than this. It's a very challenging role.

IMAGE: Mustafa Burmawalla and Kiara Advani in Machine

Was it the role that made you take this film up?

Yes. The script is so strong and challenging. 

The character is not like me. That was the fun part. As an actor, you want to do something that is not you. You want to become something you’re not.
I had to give an audition but I didn’t even know that I gave it.

Once, my dad and uncle called me to the office and said, 'Mustafa, the scriptwriter isn’t here today, can you narrate the script?'

So I narrated the script and enacted all the scenes.

After the last scene, they got up and said, 'Mustafa, you are doing this film.'

They wanted to see how I would look on screen. So I made a 15 minutes show reel and showed it to them. That’s how they got the confidence that I can act.

But I wasn't personally satisfied; I wanted to polish my skills. So I went to NSD (National School of Drama) and trained for six months. After that, I started the film.
Was there a constant pressure on you to deliver your best and not let your father and uncle down?

No. I'll tell you my daily routine. I wake up at 5 or 6 am. I start with gymnastics and action followed by dance class and then gym again.

So the action bit wasn’t tough because I practised a lot.

I wasn’t under any pressure.

IMAGE: Mustafa Burmawalla and Kiara Advani in Machine

Kiara mentioned that she was pampered more than you on the sets.

Yes, absolutely! (laughs)

They (Abbas-Mustan) treated me like all the other actors. They never treated me like a son. The relationship was strictly professional.

I used to meet them on set and after pack-up and they would go back to their room and I would go back to mine.

I did not call them 'dad' or 'uncle'. I would call them 'sir.'
But there must be some sort of comfort level with them as they are family?

There was no comfort level at all. (laughs)

When I was an AD (assistant director), I used to earn more than an actor! (laughs) You can make out the comfort level I got.
Did you accompany Abbas-Mustan to film locations when you were younger? 

No, I have never been on set.

The only time I went on set was during Badshah. I was very young at that time.

After being there for about an hour, I was bored and wanted to go. I couldn't watch it again and again, the retakes.

I concentrated on my studies. 

I knew my father directed movies but that’s it.

I wanted to meet Shah Rukh Khan and that was the only reason I went on the sets of Badshah. I remember the casino scene was being filmed, at the start of the film.

When I started with assisting them, I started going on the sets. 
Did watching Abbas-Mustan help you?

Yes, of course. As an AD, I learnt so much from my father and uncle that it really helped me as an actor.

Even when I was assisting, I used to observe other actors, what they do, how they perform, the homework they do and the technicalities of the film.

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Jahnavi Patel / in Mumbai