In conversation with the director of Hamid: Aijaz Khan!

When Hamid was showcased at IFFSA 2019, I got a chance to chat with the director, Aijaz Khan. The two of us got chatting pretty extensively, despite the interview being conducted on a busy red carpet. Because of my own bias of how inspiring I find child actors to be, I asked Aijaz Khan a point-blank question – what were some of the challenges of working with a child actor, specifically from the perspective of a director. Aijaz responded, “[t]here are a lot of challenges and especially challenges when you have someone who has never ever faced the camera ever in his life. So there were a lot of challenges that we faced but we went through all of that systematically where we had an acting coach. And that's how we went about it so, I guess challenges go with every film. Every film, every time you are making a film, there are challenges.

I then explored the fact that the phone is a huge part of this film. Face to face interactions can garner pretty natural reactions and responses, but when a scene is being filmed over the phone, there is the additional challenge of ensuring that the reaction is natural. The filming happened in two different ways, the shots were not simultaneous, with the fact that the conversations were happening in isolation, with nobody actually being on the other side of the phone. Continuity and natural reactions can be an issue so I raised that with Aijaz, and Aijaz first thanked me for the question and said it was nice that somebody noticed the phone as being a challenge. 

Then, he answered the question, “[o]kay, what we did was, it was a very deliberate attempt not to get them together. Vikas, who plays a CRF Jawan, and Talha, who plays Hamid, never confronted each other. Because the idea was that they are talking in the film and that's how we handled it. Vikas, I knew could handle it but I didn't know how to do that to Talha. So he didn't have a face. He used to go back and see him on TV. He used to say that's the man whom I'm going to talk to and that's how it happened. And he had no clue because when you're shooting, the dialogue was said by another person, one of my assistants, so to get that feeling and all, that's how it was. And it was a very deliberate attempt because I wanted that freshness on his face because he never sees who he is talking to on the phone. And in the film, they never meet each other at all. So that's what helped me to get the expressions from Talha, not being an actor, getting his performance as realistic as possible.”

I explored that further – that somebody else fed him the lines during rehearsals and blocking. So how did that work? Aijaz responded, “[t]hat's the only way because the minute you get the actual character and you make them face the boy, you know for Talha, it is the freshness, he has never acted before, he is not an actor. So we had to train him, we had to let him know that these are the cameras which we are going to use and this is how we are going to go about it. So the good thing is that he was very excited too. You know, he learnt all the dialogues of the entire film. It was all there, so I didn't want that monotony to set in that I know who I am talking to. So that is why we kept them separate. It was a very deliberate attempt. Also, the intention was that the boy thinks that he is speaking to God so I didn't want that, because what is the picture that we put in the boy’s head? He plays a character that is 8 years old, so how do we place that? Does he think that he is actually speaking to God? So I didn't want a picture in his mind.”

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Armin Sethi

Bollywood Film Fame Canada has been a source of original content consisting of real conversations, reviews, and news of everything film, music, and entertainment for 15 years.

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