Kubbra Sait: A Multi-Talented Person Whose Acting Is A Treat To Watch
It is seldom that you meet an artist who is both aware and awoke. Aware of the art brimming inside of them, and Awoke of the society existing all around. It is a fine balance for an artist to achieve, when they work not just for the art’s sake, but also to make a statement which reflects true to the world we live in. Kubbra Sait in the recent past has been one such artist. Gifted with natural flair for acting and articulation, Kubbra Sait is that rare personality who also posses an innate responsibility to usher a change in the way we look at world. Be it her acting affordances or her poetic ponderings Kubbra Sait has surely become a relevant and important artist for our times. It was imperative that we reach out to her in hope to understand her journey thus far. And thus she spoke….
You started off your showbiz career as a public speaker and then went on to EMCEE for a lot of high-profile awards shows like Filmfare, Zee Cine Awards, etc. Where does the art of speaking come from?
Yeah, so I guess I kind of developed the absence of the fear of being on stage when I was during my school and college days. That happened because I started taking part in debates and elocutions, extempore and stuff like that. I also moved to Dubai in this period of time for a short while, which allowed me to have a bigger spectrum of interaction. That allowed me to have a lot more knowledge sharing with people and cultures that I would not normally have access to. It allowed me to be more open, which helped me further conversations with a lot of ease, irrespective of the people I was speaking to. This at a very subconscious level boosted my communication skills. So, when I received the opportunity to be on the red carpet of Filmfare or Zee Cine Awards or any other celebrity gathering, where I had to interact with an A-list celebrity, I was ticking something off my bucket list. I have always wanted to be a part of these shows, for me it was an achievement as an anchor, back in the day. I always appreciated it and looked at it as growth, those milestones are what allowed me to reach where I am.
I also have to credit my genes for my speaking ability. My grandfather, a very prominent minister from the Mysore Legislature of Karnataka, Mr. Aziz Sait, was a fantastic orator. I got my passion from there; I believe that it was genetically passed on. I think that combustible energy was always there and we took it forward and here we are.
Has acting always been a passion or did you develop it while working in Mumbai as an EMCEE?
No, I did not know the A of acting. HAHA!. I remember learning acting through every project I have taken up as an actor. In my head I was a phenomenal actor, just waiting for that one perfect script. But then I realized that I am not that good of an actor and I did not know anything about acting. I can tell you with full confidence, that its been only the last 2-3 years, where I have felt myself experience acting. It’s a great process because it allows you to be not yourself. You are actually ripping off your skin and wearing someone else’s skin. Its supremely tough and is a job that comes with a great amount of pressure, because, whether you like it or not, every project of yours is going to be put under a microscope and you should be aware of that. So, that makes you constantly walk on a thin line of ‘did I do well’ or ‘did I screw it up’. I was actually having a conversation with a producer friend of mine. Suddenly, he said, “Arre, you are an accidental actor na?”, and I actually smiled, because no one had put in such simple terms as him. So, yes, the progress was to be an actor, but I learned and am still learning acting on the job.
I feel like Sacred Games has put you firmly on the map because of your fearless and extremely empathetic portrayal of Cuckoo? How has playing Cuckoo changed your prospects career-wise and has it had any impact on you personally?
That is a loaded question. I think the character is fearless and extremely empathetic because of the writing and the belief that every single person in the unit put into it. Anurag Kashyap and Varun injected that spirit of glory into the character by calling her gender, Cuckoo ka Jadoo. You have got a warlord and the kingpin of Mumbai falling love with this transgendered person. These things were the magic on the periphery and I was just the vehicle. I appreciate and I am very grateful for the people who have given the kind of adulation that I have received through Cuckoo. But my endeavor is going to be to constantly evolve from there, without discrediting what Cuckoo has done for in terms of my career. I think when I die, people will say Cuckoo died, HAHA.
Has it had a personal impact on me? Yes, the kind of conversations that it has opened up in my personal life has been phenomenal. For me to have conversations on the lines of gender fluidity, or sexual orientation, or people talking to me about having the courage to change their gender, or not feeling comfortable in their skin. I never expected that kind of a conversation ever in my life. And maybe it would have never happened if I had never played this character. So, I’m extremely grateful for the value of these conversations bring to my life personally. That is something that I will never shake off from my life. I’d always be open to these conversations, and these discussions, because if these are the kinds of conversations that will take the community forward. Technically we are outsiders to their community, so we should be so open-minded enough that they are willing to include us in their conversation. I was so glad when I was invited to be the host for KASHISH Film Festival. I actually dressed up as a man to do that and incidentally, I and Nawaz looked like twins; it was outstanding.
I have heard that Anurag Kashyap, works very organically with his actors in the sense that he lets them improvise and accepts any inputs, as long as it fits with the character. How was your experience working with him and the great Nawazuddin Siddique on Sacred Games?
Anurag Kashyap truthfully is one of my greatest anchors, he is one of my friends to say. He is not so fiery or feisty or bold or someone who will demand what he believes is his. He is somebody who is very coy about things, he is very internal. So, the minute he sees his actors perform something that is organic or real or truthful, he doesn’t interrupt it. He will just let it play out. Nawaz is such a generous, kind and wonderful to work with. That’s the kind of freedom I got from both Anurag and Nawaz ; I mean both are legends in their respective crafts. I have nothing but love for both these human beings.
Speaking on a stage to an audience seems very different from acting to a camera and a small crew. If so, what do you see as the main difference?
So, the main difference that I’ve learned talking on stage is the expanse of the audience. So, the audience would be left to right. They would be gathering your emotions with you go from one end of the room to the other end of the room. But when you’re acting, your camera is your focal point, and the audience is behind that camera. So, the eye connect is in one place and not across the room. When you talk, when you listen, you’re doing everything to one focal point, which is the biggest difference that I have realized.
What is the advice you would give to young actors trying to find their way into Bollywood?
Please break out of the conditioning that the world is put onto you. Don’t listen to these unwritten rules that dictate what you should or should not do. Go out there and gamble, you really must put yourself out there. You can’t be a good actor if you haven’t experienced life enough. You should go out there, open yourself to new experiences, travel the world, read a lot, meet new people. But don’t turn around and say if I do this, I will not become a hero. The aim should never be to be a hero or a heroine, the only aim should be to be an actor. You could be a good, bad, or decent actor, but the main aim is to be an actor.
I am a huge fan of your brother as I am from Bangalore. I knew him mainly from his prank calls on the radio and his insanely hilarious IPL interviews. I recently watched him at The Improv. Are you interested in foraying into Improv or stand-up comedy in the future?
In the last 14 years, I have been extremely close to several stand up comedians. My Ex-best friend is a stand-up comedian, my brother is into comedy, I have a lot of friends in my circle who are comedians. But no man, I don’t think I am going to foray into comedy, no. I would be happy doing a comedy role as an actor, but I don’t see myself getting into stand-up comedy. I have always refuted the idea. I’m a good storyteller. I think I’m better with words that are real and I just possibly can make jokes about those things. I don’t think I want actually to explore situations that are close to my heart in a comedic way. But I have the highest order of respect, for people who can just do that at the snap of a finger. I think my brother is hilarious and brilliant at what he does. I am just going to look at that with respect and leave it there.
Sacred Games basically made OTT’s a household name and revolutionized how people perceive online content. It has made unconventional the new convention. So, is there a checklist that you follow as you choose your future roles?
No man, my checklist consists of basically the people I get to work with. If I know that I’m going to either learn from them, or I’m going to have a good experience working with them, I’m going to definitely take up the role. I think that’s only going to lead me from one project to another. I’ve always believed that if you’re working in a holistic environment, then you are growing and there is nothing in the world that can compensate growth. So, I look at working with a good holistic team to make things happen for me.
What can we expect next from you? Are there any new projects you are really excited about, that you are working on?
I just finished working on a show called The Verdict. It is out now and I urge you to watch it. I urge everyone who’s reading this interview to watch it. It’s a very interesting role that I think I have managed to pull off. The audience will have to tell me if I did justice to it or not. But that being said, I have experienced a whole different side of quietness in me. This character as a human being has a whole journey of being vengeful, angry, upset, to going all the way to turn around and say that she forgives this man who killed her brother. It’s a story that’s out of the books of history, and it has never been explored from a woman’s point of view. So, this time the story is centered around the life of the wife, whose husband murdered Prem Ahuja and the sister whose brother was murdered by the same.
Apart from that, I have worked in three films last year. One of them is going to Busan Film Festival, it’s called ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’. I have a film with Saif Ali Khan, which is set to release next year, I have one with Rajat Kapoor. What else? Yeah, work-wise I am doing pretty well now.
Can you recommend some TV shows and films that really influenced your work?
I don’t know if these shows have influenced my work, but these are shows I would highly recommend watching right now:
The Family Man
Made in Heaven
I think if I can take parts, divisions, and bits of all these phenomenal performances, and put a fraction of them in my work. I would be a phenomenal actor in this country. So, I am learning as I said.
Can you also tell us about some public speakers that have influenced your work?
She is one of the most prolific speakers that I am aware of.
Obviously, one of the best.
Closer to home, I think Twinkle Khanna makes for a great speaker.
He is very charismatic in his delivery.
If he is not manipulating facts he is a great speaker.
It’s not just because he is my brother, but he is one of the best speakers I have ever listened to.
Sometimes, I am surprised by how much he has to say. HAHA.
So that was Kubbra Sait talking to us about her ideology of life and the kind of work she wants to pick up going forward. We wish her incredible amount of good fortune and may she shine bright as a star for years to come. Till the next time, Ciao!