Ila Arun: Nawazuddin Siddiqui has been like a son to me but when I met him on sets of Haddi 2023…

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Ila Arun: Ila Arun will be shown as a trangender for the first time in the film Haddi. She chats to HT about working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui again and much more.

Ila Arun: Nawazuddin Siddiqui has been like a son to me but when I met him on sets of Haddi…

Singer-actor Ila Arun is coming back on film, and this time, as a transsexual. She portrays Amma in Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Haddi and claims she was the only cis-woman on set amid guys and transgenders. The film’s trailer has revealed the storyline of the vengeance thriller in which Nawazuddin’s character gets retribution from those who murdered Amma. And Ila admitted she couldn’t recognize Nawazuddin for a second when she first saw him in the getup of a lady. Also read:

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Ila described her experience of working with transgenders for Haddi and how they all greeted her on set by grooving to her famous songs. She also confessed of feeling conscious around kids in the beginning until gradually being their Amma. Excerpts:

Tell us about your character Amma in Haddi.

Amma is pretty similar to Nawazuddin’s persona. She has given him strength and he cares for her and that’s why he goes on to revenge her murder. Each group of transgenders has an Amma, who is also a transgender. I’m the lone woman in the film. Others are either men or transgenders or there are persons who have altered their sex. Amma is like a Durga…she is passionate and she’s really strong.

How was your experience of filming with transgenders?

It was a wonderful experience. I was a little concerned on the first day since I didn’t know how to act. Sometimes these folks were quite loud, sometimes they were very emotional. But then they became part of me. As I approached the stage, they danced to my song Resham Ka Rumal. The first thing they told me is how they sing my songs whether it’s an event like Holi, marriage or delivery. They knew 5 songs. They made me so comfortable and all my scenes were with them. I have to feel comfortable since they are part of my gang or my family in the film.

What was your response when you first saw Nawazuddin dressed up as a woman?

I still remember when nobody had warned me and I turned around, said hey and wondered, who is this woman? And it was Nawaz. I couldn’t distinguish him since there were so many transgenders dressed out all around. So it took me a minute and then I chuckled. He looks so good on set and has worked so hard. It was tough to identify him even though I knew him in and out.

You have worked with Nawazuddin quite a few times. How was it to work with him while he was disguised as a woman?

It takes time initially but later we are all actors. Nawaz was a policeman in Raat Akeli Hai, a weak rural child in Ghoomketu and a renowned writer in Manto. In our fourth video, when you see him as a lady, he makes you mindful because of the way he takes his pallah or the way his body language is. Sometimes when he smokes, that’s the only time I was reminded of him as Nawaz. For a second I was aware since I always regarded him as my son. But again, this is how the performers are known to adapt and alter. He made me comfortable and I treated him just the way I should have done as Amma.

You work in relatively few films? Why did you say yes to the role of a transgender?

I’m the issue. My age actresses do 2-2 films in a year. I performed Ghoomketu, Aafat-e-Ishq and finally Chhalaang. I am filming for three films right now.

I portrayed a transsexual because actors are usually searching for a tough character. Otherwise the face stays the same. What makes it distinct is the character that they portray. I have done a children’s film where I portrayed an 86- year-old. I modified the voice and all those stuff. I was a little conscious but as I got into my persona, I realized Oh my God. I followed some of the transgenders. Lakshmi is a dear friend of mine who looks gorgeous. Gracefully, she wears her saree. You need to get the body language perfect else it is normal. It’s a tough thing to execute with them on real place but was a nice chance.

Your fight sequence on stage with Lillete Dubey in Call My Agent: Bollywood was hilarious.

(laughs) It depends what you’re receiving and how much screen space is provided by the filmmaker and what he’s anticipating. Sometimes the director is not open. He has a script, but he’s not open. He’s got his own notions. If you have given us the character, then let us do honor to that character. Sometimes they are quite insistent. I hail from Shyam Benegal’s period and he offered a lot of latitude to innovate within that frame. You will see some nice items from me and hope I keep on receiving wonderful stuff.

Haddi premieres on ZEE5 on September 7.

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