Saqib Saleem's confident performance as Ram Kapoor's bullied but unvanquished rogue of a son in Mere Dad Ki Maruti has multiplied his popularity since last year's Mujhse Fraaadnship Karoge where Saqib seemed a natural-born scene-stealer.
The one who is proudest of the youngster is his sister Huma Qureshi who made her own impressive debut last year with Gangs Of Wasseypur.
A prominent director who plans to work with both the screen-friendly siblings says, `Huma and Saqib represent a new generation of potential stars from outside the industry like Ayushmann Khurrana, Sushant Singh Rajput, Richa Chadha and Kartik Tiwari.
They both have a good screen presence and a terrific sense of screen-space. But they are not from within the film fraternity. They don't have major studios backing them.
Only independent producers take them on, and that too on the rebound. A Rohan Sippy film goes to Khurrana because Rohan's buddy Abhishek Bachchan wants a break. Huma gets Dedh Ishqiya when Kangna Ranaut gets cold feet about working alongside Madhuri Dixit. Sushant Rajput gets a Yashraj film when Shahid Kapoor backs out.
And Saqib is not part of Yashraj's main production house but a branch specially created for the young. Given their niche status in Bollywood it is important for these outsiders to get a stronger foothold within the industry. This is where independent filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Subhash Kapoor and Hansal Mehta come in. `
The problem arises when independent filmmakers become successful with their films and move on to the A-list of stars.
After working with a whole bunch of talented newcomers in Gangs Of Wasseypur and other films Anurag Kashyap is now gearing up to work with Ranbir Kapoor. Tigmanshu Dhulia who has given a new lease of life to neglected actors like Randeep Hooda, Jimmy Shergil and Mahie Gil has now moved on to Saif Ali Khan and Priyanka Chopra.
`It's an inevitable cycle of self-renewal. Naseerudin Shah and Om Puri have spoken on how betrayed they felt when Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani chose to work with Shashi Kapoor, Karisma Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor. Now it's our turn. Talent always succumbs to stardom, ` says a young actor who has been at the receiving-end of this cyclic betrayal.
Given the uncertainty of being part of an entertainment industry that favours the fortunate, Huma and her brother Saqib represent a new breed of actors from outside the film industry who would like to form an alternative empire from outside Bollywood.
Huma who is currently shooting with Madhuri Dixit for Abhishek Choubey's Dedh Ishqiya can barely contain her excitement at her brother's persuasive impact in Mere Dad Ki Maruti.
Says Huma, `One thing no one can deny about Saqib is that he is a spontaneous and uninhibited performer. Give him any scene and he will do it naturally and effortlessly. Of course it is difficult for me to judge his performance impartially, since he's my brother and I am bound to be biased. `
Saqib is in the meanwhile taking it nice and steady.
Says the young actor, `I've just finished Bombay Talkies. I am part of the segment directed by Karan Johar. Other than that I am just reading scripts. I don't want to sign anything in haste. `