Interview Hindi

Interview: Meet Aadar Jain and Anya Singh, souls shackled by red tape in Qaidi Band


In an interview with Cinestaan.com, newcomers Aadar Jain and Anya Singh, bare their hearts out, talking about their roles and experiences in their debut film. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

It’s always fascinating to meet newcomers in the film fraternity. Most of them are nervous, their innocence is reflected in the tutored answers they give to questions. Seasoned journalists are quick to pick their tutored lines but why just actors, most raw talents tend to be all over the place when thrown in the ocean. Yet, these conversation are fascinating for the the journey of the artistes.

While Aadar Jain is part of the extended Kapoor family, Anya Singh is a rank outsider hailing from Delhi. They will make their debut with Habib Faisal‘s prison drama Qaidi Band, a tale of undertrials who form a band in the hope that a good show will open the doors to freedom. The film is inspired by Tihar Jail’s very own band, Flying Souls. The film will be released on 25 August.

The two come from different backgrounds but just looking at their bonhomie with each other, the duo come across as long time pals. Yes, they do mutter tutored lines, but there's something about the young actors that makes them very likeable.

Jain and Singh bare their hearts in this honest conversation with Cinestaan.com.

Excerpts:

With a name like Aadar, are you always, humble grounded, respectful. Is that the reason why Ranbir Kapoor always keeps bullying you?

No, he doesn't bully me because my name is Aadar. He’s my brother. He can do what he wants and I cannot say, because he is older than me. That’s been the case since childhood. He’s always been bullying me. Can you see all these marks, bruises, it’s all because of him only.

Ranbir, my brother Armaan, we all play football every Sunday. It’s a war then, we are always fighting, playing wrestling. You can ask her (Anya). My name was given to me by my mama (maternal uncle), Rishi Kapoor. He just felt that 'Aadar' is a name that means respect. He will respect a lot of people and one day hopefully, if he makes it big in life, people will respect him.

Anya, you’re a total newbie to this industry. Tell us about you’re journey so far.

Like any other child, I wanted to do a lot of things. I wanted to be an astronaut like Kalpana Chawla. I even had the chance to talk to her. She was the aunt of one my close friends. For years, I said that I wanted to be like her. Unfortunately, Kalpana Chawla passed away. I didn’t get to meet her again.

The first film that I had watched was Dil To Pagal Hai (1997). Song and dance is something that I have always enjoyed. I love Hindi music.  

For a long time, I didn’t reveal my dreams fearing what people would say. Often we find people saying that only dumb people become actors or models. My family is far from this profession. I told my friends about my ambitions, they asked me to tell my parents, who turned it down. I tried hard to suppress my dreams so I started working as a wedding planner. But here I was surrounded by Hindi music. Then I realised that this is something that I cannot suppress any longer. I asked my mother to allow me to pursue my dreams. She reluctantly agreed to give me a year. But she told me that if I fail, do not take it as a failure. I moved to Mumbai in December 2015. On 6 July, I got this film after clearing the auditions.

Anya, how has life changed for you since?

Honestly, life hasn’t really changed for me. I still live in a flat with four girls and a dog, I go home and make my own bed, my own food. There is also other work that I have to do when I go home. You get a sense of reality when you are home. There are times when one odd person may ask you for an autograph, but truth be told, no one really recognises me. What's changed though is that I have to be bit more responsible with what I say.

Aadar, you come from a reputed film family. Was it an easy decision to make in that regard?

When I was growing up, I was a lost boy in school. What came naturally to me was entertaining. I saw my friends turn into lawyers, engineers but these things never interested me. From an early age, I was interesting in just one thing — acting. So, I went to New York to learn acting. I came back and assisted in Happy New Year (2014). That was the time where I actually learnt the process of filmmaking. It was enriching experience seeing how Shah Rukh Khan works. I was amazed with the work ethic he followed. Thereafter, I assisted Karan Johar in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016). I knew then that one day I will become an actor.

Aadar, in the past we’ve seen that often star kids tend to make their debut with the traditional romantic sagas. That’s not the case with Qaidi Band. The film is inspired by a real life prison band, Flying Souls. Do you feel fortunate to be able to get such a different subject in your first film?

To be honest, when I was signing the film, I never thought of the traditional romantic comedies. If you look at my grandfather Raj Kapoor, he was often cast in deglamorous roles. Anari (1959), Shree 420 (1955) and Mera Naam Joker (1970), there too, it was about a poor man trying to entertain the people. My character is also deglamorous. I am not looking at songs, deglamorous roles, what I’m looking at is the story, is it educational and at the same time entertaining? I got educated while doing this film, hope it educates a lot of other people, who are unaware about the situation.

You were not Habib Faisal’s first choice for the lead role. Is that true?

Yes, I wasn’t the original cast to the film. There was a boy called Danyal Zafar from Pakistan, he was cast for the movie. But after the Uri terror attacks, he had to go back. Therefore, I was the last person to be cast in the movie.

Aadar, I hate the word nepotism. But at the trailer launch you had a projection of your grandfather, Raj Kapoor, on your T-shirt. In hindsight, do you think that was not such a wise marketing strategy as you ended up getting trolled for living in your grandfather's shadow?

The photo has me standing with a projection of my grandfather on my T-shirt. I never met my grandfather. He passed away before I was born. I have heard great stories of him. Because of my love and admiration for my grandfather through the many stories and films, I always found that he is somewhere inside me. It was meant to be symbolic of my connection with my grandfather.

People who took it literally felt that here is this guy going around with a projection of his grandfather. But if you look at the caption, it says 'Raj Kapoor is a legend, I’m just an aspiring actor'. I’m like anyone else who will have to make a name for myself, create my own identity.

Did you guys happen to visit jail and meet real inmates?

Anya: No, but Habib sir had visited a few jails. A lot of our characters was then moulded onto the people he interacted with. Besides, we watched lot of videos, read few books. Habib sir told us that these people don’t have too many expressions, there is a pain in their eyes. Even during the poster shoots, we knew that the emotion has to be kept within. Now as an actor, this is a space very hard to get into, but very easy to get out.

Anya, just looking at you in the trailer and the songs, you seem to be having this grieving intensity and aggression. Does that come naturally?

No. Anger for me is something I never tap into, due to certain reasons in my life. I remember when Habib sir made me hear 'Hulchul' (one of the songs from Qaidi Band). I wondered how will I do it. Anger, aggression, I don’t voice it very often. Unless, I’m really upset at somebody. So, I had to work hard with the anger part. I actually cried at the end. It was so emotional that I broke down. I don’t know how I did it.

While the film centres around  a musical band of inmates, the core issue, as told by Habib Faisal to us, is the state of undertrials in India. While our judiciary is slow, guilty or not, this society even looks upon the under trials as convicts.

Anya: A lot of people don’t know the difference between undertrial and convict. Even I didn’t know it. Once you’re convicted, that sticks on to your resume, but the undertrials are misunderstood. They keep languishing in jail for years. The innocent ones don’t have the means to get out or they just don’t reach the court to get a fair trial.

Aadar, your brother Armaan Jain made his debut with Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (2014). There was a great hype around the film, but unfortunately the film bombed. We haven’t seen him since. How did Armaan cope with that phase?

You put in all the effort for your exams but you fail. Yes, it does feel bad. But you have to work harder for the next exam.

Of course, he was frustrated and upset that his first film didn’t do well, but he also felt that he needed some time to improve his skills. Even today, he is in talks with a lot of producers, he will be signing something soon. He had offers even then, but he didn’t take up any film for the sake of it. It’s not just Armaan though, both Ranbir and Kareena began their careers with Saawariya (2007) and Refugee (2000), respectively, which were big disasters.

But the way they have picked themselves from there is really amazing. All those stories are very inspirational. You are either successful or you learn, there are no failures. You make mistakes you’re down and out, and that’s when it is a true test of your character. It’s very hard to say that I’ll fight back, but it’s really tough to pick your spirit.

Finally, unfortunately, Qaidi Band will be competing with three other films. How do you look at that for your first film?

Anya: I believe we have given our best. What happens beyond this isn’t in our control. Now whether it is five movies, or just one film, if it’s a good film it will do well, If not, then it won’t do well. There’s no added pressure on us.

Aadar: There is an audience for every film. At a buffet, there are various dishes to choose from. We’re perhaps are the chicken korma, or the junglee mutton.