Working on 'Grahan' was a huge learning experience for me, says actress Zoya Hussain

Zoya Hussain is an Indian actress, writer and director. She was lauded for her role in Mukkabaaz, directed by Anurag Kashyap. She has again made a mark with her acting prowess in 'Grahan'

Actress Zoya Hussain
Actress Zoya Hussain
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Kumar Raviraj Sinha

Tell us about your journey.

My journey has been great with many twists and turns. Post-Mukkabaaz, things have changed a lot for me in many ways like the way people perceive me. As an outsider, when your work comes out then people have the context to who you are, how your work is, and what more they can expect from me. It is important to be represented in a way that allows you to then choose the work and character you want to play, of course, it's an ideal situation. It is not easy to represent yourself accurately and put yourself out there when you have no connection. I am lucky and grateful that my journey has been constantly moving forward with the organic evolution of things. When I came to Bombay I had no work, I tried to connect with people as much as possible who were like me and in the same position as me. It is important that even if you aren't getting paid for anything, you do something which keeps you stimulated, involved, activated, in touch with people and connected. Apart from the tangible outcome, it also has the intangible effect that comes which keeps you stimulated and your spirit uplifted. It contributes greatly to be motivated and happy. I feel very grateful that I worked with such phenomenal filmmakers and the one I am going to be working with in the future. Looking back, it has been a great journey and I am looking forward to more good opportunities in my career.

How was your experience working in Disney+Hotstar series ‘Grahan’?

Working on Grahan was a huge learning experience for me. It's my first OTT show. We were shooting during these difficult times given the situation in the world right now. There was a lot of learning involved while playing this character, and the difference in the sense that you have so much to shoot in the same amount of time. The planning, the scenes, the breakdowns, the place we were shooting at were entirely different and it requires you to be disciplined. At least for a project like this where we are shooting continuously and every day, while maintaining the integrity of the character and story. A slight difference from conception to how the final product came out. It was a big experience!

How much time did you take to prepare for your character as a Police officer and what problems you have faced?

Preparing for the police officer part, we had a wonderful workshop coach Pooja Sarup, who is a fantastic actor. Her company does amazing innovative things, she guided us through the character. We did a lot of scene work because the emotional scenes, father-daughter scenes, all of the interpersonal relationships are as important as the police officer aspect of it. It would have been amazing if we could have actually met the people, but due to the Covid situation, we couldn't. We did a lot of workshops when you are in services, there is a certain sense of authority position, the body language, there is a sense of blinkers on. Sometimes just focusing on the task given and the outcome, unraveling, uncovering, or coming to a conclusion, also affects your personality. I have watched a lot of interviews of many women and noticed all the frequent emotions we have about, or what we imagine women in this male dominated world would be like. They were incredibly charming and fun. The way they spoke was enigmatic. I also wanted Amrita apart from being all of these things to be relatable as a person. Because you see everything through her eyes, as things unravel for her, she uncovers things so does the audience. She is a daughter, a police officer, I wanted people to relate and connect with her as a person. Things were difficult at the start but to maintain the balance and not fall into a stereotype or repeat anybody was important. It was important for all of us to collectively, creatively create something of our own. It was fun and challenging at the same time to play a police officer. The challenges are the things that push you to explore different things and also the different aspects of yourself as a performer

What are your upcoming projects?

I really can't reveal much on them. But it is a good mix of things and I am sure once it's out the audience is surely going to love it!

If you were not an actor, what would you aspire to be?

I actually have no idea if I wasn't an actor then what I would be. As I have always been an active part of this creative field. If not an actor I would definitely write, direct, or maybe produce the content. I have always been fascinated with cinematography, so maybe I could try my hands in that field too. Apart from acting it would definitely be something creative that would require me to make something, create or explore. Definitely in the same domain.

What type of characters do you prefer to do?

I don't have any specific character in my mind that I only want to play these types of characters. As an actor, we need to be flexible with all the given characters. I would love to have the opportunity to explore a variety of characters, roles, and different content/genres. The only character I wouldn't play is something that conflicts with my belief system or something that is not worth of a character to play.

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