When you get something dark, a little cunning, it adds a lot of excitement.(Ramya Ramdas)

For many watching the 2018 spy thriller Raazi, what stood out the most in the film was the suspecting, morose Pakistani house-help Abdul, always threatening to blow her cover and get her killed. Arif Zakaria played the character. From making his screen debut in the ‘80s TV show Chunauti and acting in films such as Earth (1998), My Name is Khan (2010), to the recent web show Leila, Arif has a diverse body of work to his name.

However, theatre terrifies the 52-year-old. “I’m always on the edge before shows. But then you rehearse it out before, retrace what you have done earlier and cross your fingers that it all falls into place. Everything falls into place with a little bit of experience, and rest is just… you have to live in the moment and just do it,” says Arif, who will be in town for his play Gardish Mein Taare, as part of the Delhi Theatre Festival.


It was in the Capital, too, where the actor shot for Leila, and another project. “I have visited Delhi on and off. I always enjoy Delhi, spread out, stretch your legs, literally,” he says. “Delhi audience is much appreciated because of this Hindi-and-Urdu speaking cultural audience we cater to. Bombay is very cosmopolitan. That way Delhi helps us as it’s exposed to so much theatre. Our best reactions have come through our shows in Delhi,” he adds.

Talking about playing negative characters, Arif says, “I lead a boring life otherwise. When you get something dark, a little cunning, it adds a lot of excitement to me. The role has to be written well and the director should understand it smartly. All the little areas need to be in sync for something nice to come out. For Leila, Deepa (Mehta) was there, Raazi it was Meghna (Gulzar). It was all in sync with what I was offered and what came out. It’s a collaboration of all that.”

With the audience’s taste constantly changing, Arif’s endeavour, is to adapt with it. “It’s a little scary. We have come to these rapidly changing times where you have to keep yourself relevant all the times. You could have seen something three days ago, and something better, sassier, larger [comes along]. So, you’ve probably forgotten what you have seen three days ago. It’s unnerving. You are not getting younger, so you go bolder as time passes by,” Arif signs off.


  • What: Gardish Mein Taare
  • Where: Siri Fort Auditorium, August Kranti Marg
  • When: August 31
  • Timing: 8pm
  • Nearest Metro Station: Green Park Metro Station on Yellow Line

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First Published: Aug 17, 2019 12:50 IST


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