Posted by Fenil Seta
Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 17, 2017)
Delhi-born siblings Huma Qureshi and Saqib Salim have been living together in Mumbai ever since they set foot in the city. Now, they’re bringing the real-life sibling revelry to the screen with Prawaal Raman and Leena Tandon’s upcoming horror flick, Dobara: See Your Evil, an official remake of the 2013 American supernatural-psychological horror film, Oculus, which was directed by Mike Flanagan and received positive reviews upon release. Excerpts from the conversation with Huma and Saqib:
Has either of you ever had a supernatural encounter?
Saqib: I remember our nana and dadi telling us about a chudail in our village who used to haunt our family because she wanted something. But since I never ran into her, I don’t believe in the supernatural.
Huma: I believe in God and that evil forces exist. And for all his bravado, if a light flickers, my brother is the first to react.
Saqib: And Huma is scared of darkness and walking alone through dingy corridors. But I’m no Baahubali either. We watched Mama (a Spanish horror flick featuring Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) together and discussed it for days.
Did you see Oculus together too?
Saqib: I saw it when it released. When we were offered the Hindi remake, I asked Huma to watch it so we could take a collective decision. I’d enjoyed the original but did not watch it again. I did not want it to influence my character.
Huma: I discussed it with Saqib in detail and told them we’d have to up the sibling and emotional quotient as Indian families are different from American.
One scene from the original which you enjoyed re-creating?
Huma: The film is set in two timelines and there is this emotional scene at a juvenile centre where our characters meet after 12 years. The film is primarily conversational.
Saqib: For me, it was the scene before the interval when during a moment of epiphany I realise why I am where I am.
Huma: But after a point I don’t think the crew believed us!
Since there’s no sibling rivalry, does dinner table conversation revolve around sex, love and rock ‘n’ roll?
Huma: Saqib is my best friend and he knows exactly what is going on in my love life and vice versa. We are honest and open about our relationships but focussed on our careers right now.
Saqib: We make it a point to get to know and like each other’s partners. In fact, in the film, the siblings are connected through their unconditional love for each other. That’s true in real life too.
You both made sparkling debuts (Gangs of Wasseypurand Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge) but the early promise hasn’t translated into instant fame. Will Dobara be the turning point?
Huma: We are careful about the work we want to do. I like exploring different genres and at the end of the day, it is the script that matters. Dobara is a small-budget, high-content film.
Saqib: There’s a genuine need for horror films in India. Everybody loved The Conjuring but in our horror flicks there is a certain amount of sleaze. Our film is pure horror.