Inaamulhaq: My work should make noise, not me

Inaamulhaq: My work should make noise, not me

Inaamulhaq was praised by critics and audience alike for his performance as an honest officer in the Hindi web series ‘Maharani’.

Inaamulhaq, the versatile Hindi actor and screenwriter, believes in quality. “I find only two or three films worthwhile from the 20 projects offered to me. Many casting directors have stopped calling me because they feel I am throwing attitude. It hurts their ego. But some people understand me," he says.

Inaamulhaq is a bankable actor. He has a small filmography but an impressive one. “Happy with my cameo in 'Jolly LLB 2' (2017), director Subhash Kapoor gave me the role of Pervez Alam in 'Maharani', the web series on SonyLIV.”

The actor received great praise for playing an honest officer in the series. “When a filmmaker trusts you, it is your responsibility to live up to it,” he says. “I worked on the look of a 55-60-year-old Bengali. We did not want to stereotype the character. I tried to be honest and learnt the language. These IAS officers are inherently frustrated as they are highly qualified but have to serve uneducated or semi-literate politicians,” he explains.

Inaamulhaq began with a small role in Nandita Das' 'Firaaq' (2008) and gained attention as a Pakistani who deals in pirated Indian DVDs in 'Filmistaan' (2012).

“Raja Krishna Menon, the director of 'Airlift' (2016), watched 'Filmistaan' and thought that I was the right man for the role of an Iraqi general. Subhash thought of me for the role of a Muslim terrorist-cum-Hindu priest in 'Jolly LLB 2'. I was Niraj Modi, modelled on 'Nirav Modi', in Anees Bazmee’s 'Pagalpanti' (2019). He gave me the freedom to design my makeup and choose my costumes. My efforts have paid off and it's been an interesting ride so far,” he says.

For his stellar performance in 'Nakkash' (2019), Inaamulhaq bagged the Best Actor award at the 8th Annual Washington DC South Asian Film Festival 2018 and at the India International Film Festival of Boston 2019. “In the film, I play a Muslim artisan who carves the idols of Hindu deities,” he says.

This small-town actor from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who first appeared on stage at the age of 12, began life in Mumbai as a writer. “I came to Mumbai to be an actor but I went through a struggling phase. I was always fond of writing. So I decided to try my luck as a writer. I was clear that I was not going to write anything crass, like daily soaps," he recollects.

"Luckily for me, director Pankuj Parashar summoned me to write the TV series 'Karamchand', and I wrote 13 episodes. I was with the 'Comedy Circus' team for thirty months but quit as I felt that I was earning an obscene amount of money that would dilute my creative urges. I also wrote the dialogues of Amitabh Bachchan’s home production 'Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap', directed by Puri Jagannadh," he says.

Inaamulhaq also wrote 'Goldie Ahuja Matric Pass', a sitcom about a father and a son who study in the same class in school. Speaking about his acting skills, the 41-year-old says, “I owe it to the National School Of Drama (NSD), which teaches us the importance of understanding characters and adding our perspectives to them."

Now that 'Maharani' is a hit, what are his views on the OTT boom in India? “Film buffs love stars but now they also look for good content. The healthy co-existence between commercial cinema and content on OTT is important.”

Inaamulhaq has mostly written humourous shows. “I think I have a good sense of humour!” he replies. “Our small-town lives are full of moments, which outsiders find humorous.”

So will he act in a full-fledged comedy? “I will when I get a role that is not merely for comic relief in a film,” he says. "'Pagalpanti' had comic touches. My forthcoming film 'Mere Desh Ki Dharti' also has a comic role for me," he offers.

Interestingly, Inaamulhaq quit social media eight months ago. “My work should make the noise, not me!” he signs off.