'Here we're exploring a different relationship which is better, cooler.'
Huma Qureshi is one of our best talents and unwilling to rest on her laurels. Instead, she's always trying to push the envelope.
Her new film Valimai opens in the theatres in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and Hindi.
It has her playing a cop and pairing up with Tamil superstar Ajith Kumar to derail a group of biker outlaws. And while Huma didn't get to ride a bike, she did get to do some daring stunts.
In a conversation with Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, Huma says, "We believe it is India's biggest action film."
The first of a two-part interview:
Going by the trailer, Valimai looks like one hell of an action thriller.
(Laughs) We believe it is India's biggest action film. Even I was blown away!
You are part of the action too.
Yes, I play a strong, self-righteous cop who's as much a part of the investigation as the men. It's not as if girls are only meant to be rescued or play the victim card.
I enjoy action films, bahut dekhi thi.
I've waited and wished more such films with women are made because we can do action as well as guys, maybe even better, given the opportunity.
I'm grateful to Boney sir (Producer Boney Kapoor) and writer-director H Vinoth for giving me the opportunity to do action in an Ajith Kumar film.
Ajith sir is a very supportive co-star, bahut maza aaya working with him.
What was your most daring stunt?
I had to drive a lorry through crowded roads one night, and the team wasn't confident I'd pull it off. Even when I was sitting in the driver's seat, they kept asking, 'Are you sure you can do it?'
I pointed out that I've driven before, maybe never a lorry, but the gears are the same.
'And if I can't do it, chala lena stunt double se,' I told them.
I surprised even myself by the way I drove a lorry.
Everyone was beaming on the set and even I went home happy.
Even the hand-to-hand combat scenes were great fun.
Did you drive a bike too given that the mission revolves around tracking down a group of outlaw bikers involved in heinous crimes?
No, but I learnt to drive a bike, thanks to Ajith sir who does all his own stunts.
He loves bikes, travels across the country and abroad with his biker gang.
During the shoot, he'd tell me about these trips and I was so inspired that once I was back in Mumbai, I contacted these two girls who have a women's biker club, and do stunts in films.
Within a week, I was riding down Carter Road (Bandra, north west Mumbai).
I posted some videos.
All credit to Ajith sir for firing my enthusiasm. Maybe in my next film, I will get to do some bike stunts.
How difficult was it pulling off a film like this in the midst of a pandemic?
We were also wondering how we would shoot a film of this scale and style.
Pulling off a Valimai even in normal times would have been a task.
But Ajith sir is a leader who inspires others.
He told Boney sir not to worry, he wouldn't leave till we had finished the film and we would ensure everyone stayed safe.
The way he said it encouraged us to make Valimai happen. I've learnt a lot from watching him.
But the pandemic reportedly brought certain changes in the script, including doing away with your romantic scenes with Ajith Kumar.
Yes. When I was offered the film, though I was always playing a cop and we were colleagues, Ajith sir and I had a romantic track.
But later, scheduling got complicated with certain female actors not wanting to shoot for health reasons.
This necessitated certain changes and that's when the director decided to do away with the romantic angle.
It's refreshing this way.
Why does the lead pair always have to fall in love?
Here we're exploring a different relationship which is better, cooler.