Early July, Netflix’s first Indian original series, based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 book by the same name, Sacred Games, released. A show with a stellar star cast and powerful performances witnessed a thunderous response by it’s viewers. Social media exploded with mentions of the show as soon as it aired and rightfully so. Every character is etched so beautifully that there is an instant connect with each of them. The narrative, so gripping that you just don’t want it to stop.
I know, I binge watched the show in one day and was gutted knowing that it will be a while till the second season comes. The show has characters that you will fall in love with and it is absolutely brutal to ask on who your favourite is, but if I had to chose, then it would be that of Cuckoo’s.
Cuckoo is played by the uber-talented Kubbra Sait who essays the role of the transgender love interest of the show’s main character and narrator, Nawazuddin Siddique who plays the powerful criminal overload, Ganesh Gaitonde.
Kubbra Sait is not a new face in the industry. She is a well-known anchor who has hosted numerous shows in over 30 countries. A prolific speaker and a model who’s face is frequented in many ads and movies. When you meet her, she is like a ray of sunshine. Full of laughs and vibes that leave you feeling good about yourself. She shines of positivity and love and that is the kind of person, one always wants to be around. Her brilliant performance in Sacred Games has received all the adulation from the audiences and the biggest names in the industry. I caught up with the gorgeous Kubbra to find out more about her experience as Cuckoo.
Sacred Games has got a monstrous reception by the audiences. Did you ever think that this was going to be so big?
We always knew it was good but, I think, the word ‘Big’ is very personal and relative. You can never put a sum on joy or a sense of accomplishment. You always want to do good work and you always want to be out there, do your best and obviously receive that love back in return so that is a positive thing across the board. Hence,you always feel that what you have done now is going to propel you forward. Finally the product is so good and it’s such an all-rounded product that it couldn’t have possible gone wrong. Not only it is a good product but it’s marketed so well. It is on the biggest platform in the world and happened at the right time and the right place to release the show of this great stature. I guess it’s the combination of every element coming together and working together for it to spell out success.
When you first got approached for this role, did you have any inhibitions playing it?
Absolutely not! For me my work, more importantly good work and association with good people, has been something that I have always wanted in life. So when you are presented with such an opportunity, then you don’t really consider too many things. My most honest answer to this would be that, as a child, when I did theatre I never questioned playing a tree, a goat in the manger or Antonio from the Merchant of Venice. Therefore a gender really never struck me as ‘Oh wow this is so challenging’ and especially the third gender when we are striving and praying for equality across the world. So no, I had no inhibitions at all, infact I was excited like a puppy to work on this show and deliver my best.
Kubbra Sait plays Cuckoo on Sacred Games
How did you prepare for the role of Cukoo?
Actually I had no time to prepare. I was working on the set three days after I was signed on for the role. Also I realised early in time that Anurag Kashyap (the director) doesn’t like his actors prepared. He likes to surprise them because that’s the surprise that the viewer experiences in terms of real reactions and that’s the best part about Cuckoo’s character and working with Anurag.
You’ve done a bold scene in the series. how difficult was that to perform?
Which bold scene are you talking about? Oh! Maybe you mean the revelation scene. The revelation scene was not bold at all. It was a very vulnerable scene for me. It’s just perspective. What somebody may perceive as bold, daring or experimental was just the scene which had the essence of vulnerability, had the sense of loss, had the sense of heartbreak and that is what was important. When I did that scene, I knew there was a frontal nudity scene but so what? When Kate Winslet chose to have frontal nudity in ‘The Reader’ or any actor across the world choses to do that kind of a role, it’s a matter of expression. When you’re doing a scene like that, you’re not just exposing your body for the sake of it because if that was my intent then I would be working in an X-Rated movie and not in a show that has so many emotions. Cuckoo, by itself, has such a beautiful emotional graph. Yes, my vulnerability was difficult because I had to stay honest to it but other than that, no it wasn’t difficult.
You acted with the brilliant Nawazuddin. Did he help you with the role or the chemistry you both shared?
Firstly, I have to agree that Nawazzudin is, by far, one of the most brilliant actors who can surprise you. But, I think, I helped us with the chemistry that we shared because he loves to conserve his energy and he’s a very shy person whereas I am this embracing, kissing on the cheek, lively, vivacious human being who’s bouncing from wall to wall. He would just sit and laugh, smile and observe me and we would just end up working together. Also, he’s so secure as an actor and a human being that he doesn’t overpower you. He allows you to surprise him while he surprises you. It’s fantastic.
What is the one thing you learnt from him (Nawazuddin)?
Patience. I learnt that with patience you can achieve anything and everything and also it is time that is going to give you what it has to. You need to keep working towards it and that is, what we call, destiny.
Has life changed after Sacred Games? If so, how?
Life hasn’t changed but my career is going to change for sure. I’m definitely busier but I’m excited about that. My life is always good because I’ve always called my shots and lived it on my own terms.
When can we see you soon on the screen again? Any projects you are working on?
The next release is ‘Gully Boy’. I’m also working on another web-series and another OTT platform. I’m going to continue hosting my events. I have a travel show that is lined up and some holidays lined up which I’m most excited about. Additionally, I have a tour to America, that I’m going to be doing in October which has Alka Yagnik, Kumar Sanu, John Abraham and a host of other actors, I’m looking forward to.
You have worked very hard in this industry to be where you are today. What can you share with the girls who want to follow your path?
Thank you for acknowledging that Ive worked hard. The first and foremost advice that I would give anybody, girl or boy who comes to Mumbai is not to follow anyone else’s path but create your own. Be patient. Be positive and positive is not by reading books and then saying, “Oh yes, I’m positive!” but it’s to feel positive. Be the joy that you want to see in other people. Be open to experiences. Read a lot. Experience a lot. Talk to people. It will change your life and perspective. As an actor, you need to know everything about everybody. Don’t be inquisitive but care enough to know. Don’t say ‘No’ to things that you feel are not important in your mind because it could be one big opportunity or many small opportunities that lead to that big opportunity. Don’t be foolish or short-sighted and not see where your trajectory is and what works for you. Keep working. Keep yourself busy and your mind occupied. Better yourself as a person in the upper chamber most importantly because most people think, ‘Oh I have to become and actor and have to go to the gym’ and then they spend four hours in the gym. I think, you should spend four hours everyday on your mind, if you have to. That’ll make you a better person.
Lastly, Apart from Nawazuddin, which was that other character you would have played if not Cukoo’s?
Oh My God! Thank you for asking me this! I was wondering how, where and when could I ever pay back the lovely compliment I received from Jitendra Joshi who plays ‘Katekar’, who plays Saif Ali Khan’s fellow mate. I think, the two characters who have real love, real emotion and real joy with what they have done is ‘Katekar’ and ‘Cuckoo’. So if I were a man and I could have played Saif’s comrade, I would have been ‘Katekar’. I think he’s so endearing and just the most beautiful person. Simple, honest, grounded. So clear about what he wants and what I heard was that all his scenes that he did, most of them, were improvised so you know he’s a good actor and you know he’s beautiful. Another one would have to be Luke Kenny, who plays ‘Malcolm’. He’s so badass which, I thought, was really nice.
But then, this is the beauty about ‘Sacred Games’, usually, if it’s a film, people only recognise the hero but in this, the depth in which we have understood and seen the characters, all of them, have become important parts of the show which is why there is so much emphasis and love for them all.