The cat is out of the bag. Though it was supposed to be a well guarded secret, it doesn't remain anymore with the revelation of one of the principal actors in Ishqiya. Though all this while the film was smartly publicised as the story of Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balan and Arshad Warsi, the fact remains that amongst many other principal actors in the film, there is also an actor from Pakistan who has a substantial role to play in the film.
His name is Salman Shahid who enacts the role of the chief baddy in this Vishal Bhardwaj production. Another major revelation is that he was worked in only one Hindi film before, Kabul Express, and incidentally his co-star there was Arshad Warsi. Though one is tempted to believe that he (Arshad) may have played a role in the actor being roped in, Arshad denies any insinuation.
"No, no, I wasn't involved in the casting decision at all", says Arshad, "There was an audition held for each of the supporting actors in the film and Salman went through the same process as well. I am glad though that he made it to the cast eventually."
He was pleasantly surprised though when he met Salman on the sets of Ishqiya. "I wasn't aware about his casting and when I saw him on the sets, I exclaimed - 'arrey, aap yahaan?' It was nice to reconnect with him once again after Kabul Express. Apart from being a fantastic actor, he is also a very nice human being."
One wonders why the man was left behind in the entire promotional campaign of Ishqiya which has been on for over six months now. While a lot has been heard and written about the three main actors in the film, presence of Salman has been completely kept under the wraps. Was it the prevailing tension between India and Pakistan that turned out to be a major reason behind this exclusion?
"Nothing like that", says a source attached to the film's production, "The film revolves around its three principal characters and publicising anything else would have been an unnecessary distraction. Yes, Salman is important to the film's plot but it made sense to bring audience primarily on the basis of Naseer, Vidya and Arshad."
In Kabir Khan's debut directorial effort Kabul Express (2006), Salman had enacted the role of a Pakistani who kidnaps the characters played by Arshad Warsi and John Abraham. He received quite some acclaim for his role and even though he had featured in another critically appreciated film Khamosh Paani: Silent Waters earlier, he didn't bag too many roles in the Hindi film industry. One hopes that with Ishqiya turning out to be a good success, Salman will get back into the reckoning once again and bag some meaty roles for himself in films to come.