I've always been fond of Devashish Makhija’s films: Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub says he had known “Joram” filmmaker Devashish Makhija for years but stars somehow aligned only now for them to collaborate on a film.

“Joram” is a survival-thriller about a displaced indigenous man, Dasru, on the run with his infant daughter. Ayyub plays the role of Mumbai cop Ratnakar close on the heels of Dasru, played by Manoj Bajpayee.

“I have known Devashish since 2011. I have always been fond of his films. I think it was written somewhere that I would be a part of this film. I got a call in April that we will be starting the shoot in May. They were somehow not able to find Ratnakar for the film. I heard what Devashish was trying to communicate through the film and said yes within five minutes,” Ayyub told PTI in an interview.

Set in Jharkhand and Mumbai, “Joram” explores the conflict between nature and development through Dasru.

Ayyub, known for his performance in films such as “Raanjhanaa”, “Shahid”, “Article 15”, “Tanu Weds Manu: Returns” as well as shows “Rangbaaz”, “Tandav” and “Jogi”, said he was impressed by the world that Makhija has tried to create in the film.

“I loved the story. It’s set in Jharkhand and shows how privileged we are even as middle class. We always think that we don’t have this, we don’t have that, but you realise how privileged you are once you meet people who genuinely have nothing. So, if you have that open mind, you start understanding your privilege and become more conscious of your surroundings,” the actor said.

The film is Makhija’s third project after “Ajji” and “Bhonsle” to get screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Ayyub said it was a huge achievement for the team.

“Film festivals are really important. The kind of school of cinema I come from, they are very important. To be selected in the main category is really huge for all of us.” This is also the first time that Ayyub got to work with Bajpayee, though the two actors have known each other for years.

“We had never met but we have spoken over phone for different projects. In fact, it was a great moment for me when Manoj sir called me and appreciated my performance in ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. That’s how we connected. We have been in touch ever since,” he recalled.

Ayyub said he was happy to finally collaborate with Bajpayee, an actor he has looked up to since college days.

“We had a blast on the set. We had really intense discussions about performance and acting. His insights are really helpful. You can see how experienced he is and how he takes his craft so seriously.

"He is also a great cook. He would go, ‘Oh, you like that, I will prepare a special dish for you.’ We were having a food party almost every day. Even when I was not shooting and he was back on shoot, he would drop me a message, ‘Arrey, Kahan ho? Aa jao’ (where are you?).” The actor spent a busy 2022 shooting for six projects and the new year looks busier than before.

Ayyub has Hansal Mehta’s web series “Scoop”, Meghna Gulzar’s “Sam Bahadur”, Prakash Jha’s show “Lal Batti”, film “KD” and another show “Kanneda”.

“The year 2022 was the busiest year in my acting career in Hindi. I did six projects in 22 and all of them are out this year. This year seems busier than before. I have ‘Haddi’ with Nawaz bhai (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). I have to start shooting ‘Lal Batti’... So there are project lined up. I am booked till July. So things are flowing well,” he said. PTI BK SHD BK BK