Adil Hussain: A Gentleman Actor
The Star Trek performer wears his global profile lightly
What was it like landing a major role in Star Trek: Discovery? How did it happen?
It was pretty unexpected. My agent sent me the script when I was in Atlanta last May, shooting for India Sweets and Spices with Manisha Koirala. I quite liked it, auditioned on my phone and sent it over. They liked it and the agent called to say I am in. During the shoot, I was very impressed by the sets, direction and costumes, which were of very high quality. It is a pleasure to work in an environment where you are not worried about anything else and can focus just on your acting.
Tell us a bit about your character and the cast.
I am contract-bound, so I cannot talk much about my role. But I can say that I play a very important South Asian person [in the film]. As for the cast, I realized that there are no hierarchies of stardom in the West. For instance, most of my scenes are with Sonequa Martin-Green and I bonded instantly with her. We mostly spoke about the craft of acting. She was curious about my journey in acting. Sonequa is a star; yet, she is also a very humble person.
You stepped out of Assam to join the National School of Drama. Was Delhi a cultural shock?
In quite a few aspects—yes. The first thing I noticed was the ‘rudeness’ of the people; later I realized there is a different way to communicate with another person. I was 27 when I joined the National School of Drama [NSD], and I had classmates joining straight after class 12 who called me tu [you, informal]. I started accepting these things and adjusted accordingly. That’s the role of an actor. I had chosen these circumstances at the NSD, and I had to fit in. But I also felt great when someone 10 years younger shared a great idea.
You have regretted doing the film Kabir Singh. Why?
For the first time in my life, I signed up to do a film without reading the script. The director sent me a few scenes from the original Telugu film and I quite liked them. I don’t blame anybody else, because it’s my fault. After watching the film I felt that misogyny was not glorified but justified. And I am absolutely against misogyny.
In Delhi you do food ‘pop-ups’ where you cook for a handful of guests. How did that happen?
My love for food started with my mom’s food. I left home at Goalpara at the age of 17 to study in Guwahati. When I used to return home, I would sit next to my mom and watch her cook. Later I would try to cook like her, and people started liking my food. When you cook for friends, there’s no pressure, but you are vulnerable if people who have paid for the food don’t like it. Gathering my courage, I have cooked Kashimiri, Bengali, Assamese and pan-Asian dishes until now.
Tell us about your upcoming films.
Up next is Pareeksha by Prakash Jha that talks about a rickshaw puller who carries students to one of the best private schools in Ranchi. And there is Goutam Ghose’s Raahgir. I am also excited about a Khasi film, Lorni—The Flaneur. It’s about a private detective who is looking for old artefacts stolen from a house. I play the protagonist.