Kashmiri lad Junaid Sheikh is excited about his upcoming movie "Lailaa O Lailaa", which will release on 7 May, 2015. Sitting at a cafe in Bangalore, Junaid looked ecstatic as he expressed his joy over working with ace Malayalam filmmaker Joshiy and actor Mohanlal in "Lailaa O Lailaa", where he is playing a villain.
After receiving an MBA degree in International Business from Arizona, Juniad moved to India with a typical 9 to 5 job. Soon he realised he wanted a career in the film industry, which led him to join Mumbai's Barry John Acting Studio. Immediately he bagged the role of a villain in Telugu film "Mr.Intelligent", which proved to be a turning point.
Since his first movie in 2010, Juniad has done over ten movies in Telugu, Malayalam, and Tamil, and also had the opportunity of working with personalities such as Mahesh Babu, Vijay, Jayaram, Suresh Gopi, B Unni Krishnan, Joshiy, and now Mohanlal.
Excerpts from Junaid Sheikh's exclusive interview with IBTimes India is as follows:
So how did "Lailaa O Lailaa" happen?
It all happened over a phone call. My debut Malayalam movie was Joshiy sir's "Salaam Kashmir" and I was very excited when he considered me for the role in his new movie "Lailaa O Lailaa". One day he called me and said that his next project is with Mohanlal sir and he wants me to play the bad guy in the movie. I did not even give a second thought and instantly said yes.
This is your second movie with Joshiy and the first with Mohanlal. How does it feel?
I have learnt a lot from Joshiy sir, who is Godfather to me, and Mohanlal sir, who is like an elder brother; both of them have helped me to evolve as an actor. Mohanlal sir is God of acting and one of the most down to earth celebrities I have ever met.
My first shot for this film was opposite Mohanlal Sir and I told him that I was nervous. Sir was so cooperative and calm that he suggested we chat over coffee before we shoot. This really calmed me down and worked towards giving my best shot. He treats me like a younger brother. I'm eager to work with him and learn from him in future
So tell us more about your role in "Lailaa O Lailaa"
"Lailaa O Lailaa" is going to be a path breaking movie in Malayalam cinema. The movie is big in every way, be it direction, casting, script, or technical aspects; the movie has a fresh feel to it. It is fast paced and I am sure this film is going to make big at the box office too.
This film has a Hollywood flavour and I hope my role stands different from the rest of negative characters which you have seen in Malayalam films till date. Here, the villain character is equal to that of the hero and is smart, handsome, and equally stylish.
You are one of the few North Indian faces who managed to become a part of almost all South Indian film industries. Is it something you have been planning?
This is what I wanted to be and I am happy that I got to work with some of the finest individuals in the film industry, including Jr NTR, Puri Jagganadh, Mohanlal, Vijay, and Joshiy sir. Who doesn't want to work with people like them! I'm happy they are giving me a part in their films.
None of them were pretentious and treated me like a brother even though I am new to the industry. The best thing about working in South Indian cinema is that people here are very sweet and nice.
This reminds me of Vijay sir with whom I worked in "Velayudham". Each time I went near Vijay sir, he used to get up and wish me and I felt really embarrassed about it. That is what I like about these stars, they know they are the best in the industry, but their humility will impress you.
So do you have any plan to be one of the lead heroes of South Indian cinema?
Absolutely not! I like this space where I'm in. Unlike others, I always dreamed of playing negative characters. Villains are integral part of a movie and there is no hero without a villain and that is the benefit of playing a bad guy. Moreover, in South Indian cinema, they have their own heroes and I shouldn't even think of playing the lead here.
I like challenges and playing a villain is always difficult, mostly because you are perceived as a bad guy in real life too. But, I would like to see this in different way: for a villain, more the audience hates you, you know you have done a good job in the movie.
Tell us about your upcoming movies
I haven't signed any Malayalam movie as yet, but there are some interesting projects on the way. My next movie would probably be a Telugu flick with Puri Jagganadh, which is again a big film.
I have also signed a dream Hollywood project, which is being produced by Shravan Kumar and Anirup Sharma under American banner "Sky Innovation". However, the director of the movie is an Indian named Sai Kumar Yadav.
Discussions are also on for my Kannada debut and I hope that will materialise soon.
My dream is to work with director Shankar sir and share screen space with individuals like Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth. In Malayalam, I would like to work with Amal Neerad, who makes some amazing movies, and Lal Jose sir who is versatile.