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Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub on Zero: “Shah Rukh Khan Made Me a Passionate Actor”

Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is a talented actor.

Born and bred in Delhi, Zeeshan completed his training in National School of Drama, after which he received his first film role in No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ).

Though his negative role in NOKJ was quite brief, this was sufficient for us to observe his calibre as an actor.

Since then, he has shone in various roles in big films like Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Phantom, Raees and Thugs of Hindostan, to name a few.

His association with filmmaker Aanand L Rai began since Raanjhanaa days and we’ve even seen him play a prominent role as Kangana Ranaut’s admirer in Tanu Weds Manu Returns.

Now, we are set to see Zeeshan in Rai’s forthcoming film, Zero.

In a special interview with Filme Shilmy, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub talks about his experience of working on Zero alongside Shah Rukh Khan.

How much of Aanand L Rai being the director of Zero influence your decision in doing the film?

Completely. I was one of the first people to be a part of this film because this idea came to him in December 2012 or January 2013 when we were shooting in Benares for Raanjhanaa.

Aanand, Himanshu Sharma (the writer of Zero) and I were just sitting when I got offered the role. So it was purely that.

It was a big bonus for me after Shah Rukh sir came on board.

You play Guddu, the friend of Bauua Singh (played by SRK). Could you kindly tell us more about your character?

I can’t give away too much, but I can say that I am representing Meerut in the film.

The attitude, flavour and culture that city carries, I am all that.

I am that small-town guy.

We’ll be seeing you with Shah Rukh Khan once again. How (if at all) did your rapport with him in Farhan Akhtar’s Raees help you in this project?

It definitely helped me. I got over the aura because we knew each other well from Raees.

The relationship between Bauua and Guddu is really close as they are childhood friends.

That ease which was developed from Raees really did help with Zero.

Every moment you spend with Shah Rukh Khan is memorable as he’s such a great person.

At one point, we were just sitting there chatting.

Suddenly, it just struck me that I’m with THE superstar himself.

In 1990, when I was just 7 I watched him and he was my childhood hero.

Just sitting with him and working itself was just such a surreal moment!

How did working with Shah Rukh enhance your experience as an actor?

A great deal. But the most important thing that happened to me is that I was about to leave acting before doing Raees.

Due to the kind of unexciting roles I was getting, I planned to leave films and only do theatre.

The first time I met Shah Rukh sir, he shook my hand, some current passed through my body (laughs) and that’s when I decided that I must do this.

I think it’s that energy, motivation to work harder and treat every film as if it’s your first inspired me.

I was really missing that passion and SRK gave me that.

He made me a passionate actor.

You began your career with theatre. What are the biggest challenges you had to overcome in this journey?

The main difference between theatre and cinema is that in films, you have to focus on the micro-details.

As an actor, in a sense of how you approach the character and build it up is the same.

But what really differentiates the two mediums are the technical details. It’s about the macro and micro levels.

Even a small breath could communicate something on-screen than it would on-stage in theatre.

In terms of one’s intensity and creativity as an actor, it’s the same on both platforms.

After so long you got a film as a solo lead last year and you’ve done some big-budgeted films. How satisfied are you with your career?

I am. I believe that ‘satisfaction’ is a state of mind, so in that sense, I was also satisfied when I was doing theatre.

But am I fulfilled? No, because there’s a lot more in me that I want everyone to see and I even want to explore new things.

I’m on a journey and happy with it.

It’s almost like a rollercoaster ride… Sometimes you get really low and the other time you’re up there.

I think my career is shaping up very well and I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who I used to watch when I was a child – be it, directors or actors.

So, I’m having fun!

Finally, breaking into the industry is tough. What would say to all the forthcoming actors out there?

The only thing is that you need to focus on what you are doing at that time.

Most of the people lose that focus.

When I started my film career, I was only seen for a few scenes here and there in my first movie No One Killed Jessica.

At that point, if I thought that I would only give my 100% when I do a film as the main lead in the film – then I wouldn’t have had this journey which I currently have.

The idea is to concentrate on the task at hand and this should become your sole focus.

Only then will you enhance your experience not only as an actor but also as a human being.

It definitely seems like the hard work and dedication is paying off for Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as he will also be seen in the forthcoming films Manikarnika and Sonchiriya.

We are certain that he will only gain more strength and popularity as an artist from hereon. 

Zero releases in cinemas worldwide on 21st December 2018.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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