Inaamulhaq is an actor and creative writer associated with IPTA before he joined the filmdom. After taking arts for his graduation he did a post graduation with specialization in acting from National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi. He fondly talks of his father, “All the things in me are what I have adopted from my late father. He was an epitome of simplicity and honesty. He spent his entire life for others’ well-being. He was employed with the UP Sugarcane Development Department. Riding his vintage bicycle, he went from field to field maintaining records and making inspections. Our family shifted from one rented place to another as we couldn’t afford a home of our own. But despite the limited means, Babuji (that is what I called him) ensured the academic education for all his nine kids including me.”
His mother would say, “TV dekhna achi baat nahi hai” and insisted that they would not buy the idiot box for their home. It was, when his elder brother started working, they got their first TV against her wishes. He has 5 sisters and 3 brothers; all married and settled expect his younger brother. He also says that he is the only one in their family who has chosen acting as a profession. He adds, “Rest all do what half of India does.” Coming from IPTA again his wife Shibli is his friend first and then only wife. His son Ivaan is 4.
Pls. share some details of your childhood.
I was born in a remote village near Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. Since my childhood I have lived 3 different lives till now when I am 35. I spent the first 10 years of my age in a remote village Kailashpur. The life in Kailashpur was pretty tough in terms of basic resources like electricity which was seen hardly for a few hours, no television at home, etc. The second 10 years of my age was spent in the main city of Saharanpur as we had to shift due to my father’s job transfers. I had to bid goodbye to all my friends in Kailashpur with a heavy heart. When I was pretty young, during my day at National School of Drama (NSD), I remember reading a Maxim Gorky’s novel called ‘My Childhood’. The book rekindled the memories of migration to Saharanpur from Kailashpur. I realized that I had suffered the same pangs of separation that Gorky in ‘My Childhood’ describes in the story. And the rest 15 years belongs to mega cities Delhi and Mumbai including some trips abroad.
How was your life before and after movies happened to you?
My life has been full of struggles. After I passed out from NSD, I started taking theatre workshops in Delhi University to earn some money to come to Mumbai to become an actor. But in two years when I realized that my bank balance was zero, I borrowed some money from a friend and came to Mumbai in 2006 to fulfill my dream. Life was still tough. Mumbai had shown me stars in the sunlight. I couldn’t even think of asking some help in terms of money from home, as they all were surviving only on my father’s pension. My friends have been a big support in those times. A friend, Sandeep Mahajan helped me with the tickets and also gave me some space in his house to stay. But I didn’t want to be dependent on him for long and so I chose the profession of writing. My first job as a writer was with Pankaj Parasharji where I wrote the story, screenplay and dialogues for Karamchand Season-II. Then came in Comedy Circus where I joined as a creative consultant. 3-3 ½ years had already gone doing these things and I suddenly realized, ‘main kya karna aaya tha aur kya kar raha hoon’. And so I left that job and started my hunt for films for acting. My first break was with Nandita Das’s Firaaq, but I didn’t gain much popularity with that. Then came a long break, where again I had to starve. Then I preferred writing jobs in TV from where I could get into acting.
After Firaaq, Agneepath happened to me. But unfortunately the film went on to be very long and so with a lot of other characters, my character was also cut down to a certain extent. Life only changed after Filmistaan. A lot of people now recognized me; I gained a lot of respect and also received three awards. So basically my journey with acting has now started.
Tell us more about your latest movie and what is your role in it?
Chidiya is my first film after Filmistaan. It’s a beautiful emotional drama based in Mumbai Chawl and I play a role of a tailor. It’s a children film. The story revolves around two young brothers of ages 7-8. When I heard the narration, I said yes on the spot. I enjoy working with kids. I have done theatre workshops with kids in the past. As actors they are more natural and you can learn a lot from them. My co-actors in this film are Vinay Pathak and Nation award winner Amruta Subhash. Like my previous film Filmistaan this is also being directed by a debutante (Mehran Amrohi) and it’s not a hard core commercial film.
What are the problems faced by newcomers in this industry?
Lots of, lots of, lots of problems. The main problem is reaching the right person especially when you come from a non-filmy background. Many times the people around the genuine person don’t let you reach the right person. Sometimes as a newcomer you are stuck in the outer circle.
Why is clean humour diminishing? There is a lot of reference to sexual innuendoes, discrimination against women and disabilities, castist humour, etc.
Clean humour is diminishing is basically because people find dirty comedy as a shortcut to gain popularity. This in one of the major reasons.
There is too much entertainment on TV these days. And comedy has the tendency to die after a point of time. Initially you love what the comedian is doing but watching him every now and then makes it monotonous. I feel everyone should respect each other and especially woman.
What do you do when not performing in front of the camera?
I like to read a lot, but because responsibilities have increased like Facebook is one responsibility, twitter in another and newspaper is another. I am a gadget freak. So I spend a lot of time researching a lot about gadgets online. I also edit pictures, make collages, etc. I am also a painter, but since I got into acting I decided to focus on the current profession. I would love to start painting again when I get some time in future.