Reality shows about celebrities and their fabulous lives is often heavily scripted and stage-managed, but Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi swears that her new show ‘Fit Fab Feast With Huma Qureshi’, which gives you a ring-side view of her life, doesn’t fall into that familiar trap.
“It’s not a manicured version of my life,” declares Qureshi over a Zoom video call with Gulf News.
The ‘Leila’ star and its makers were particular to keep her flagship show ‘organic and real’, instead of being wickedly vicarious.
“I make mistakes, I get cranky, I cry and I vent. I also throw a fit … But I have realised that there’s no point in wallowing in something for too long,” said Qureshi.
Perhaps, it was her recent health-scare involving her father, who was hopsitalised suddenly, helped her put things in perspective.
“Recently, my father became very unwell and we as a family came together and took care of him … He’s fine but those eight or nine days were very scary for us. I remember telling my mom not to come to the hospital if she continued crying. So we worked on building a positive experience and we bonded so well. It’s the first time I am talking about it,” explained Qureshi.
Her life philosophy and her hard-won faith will reflect in all 10 episodes of ‘Fit Fab Feast’, streaming now on Zee Zest.
The show aims to de-mystify the life of a celebrity living under the public glare. How do they sustain their near-perfect personas and how do they get red carpet ready? More importantly, do stars just eat celery and baby carrots to pour into those unforgivingly tiny gowns?
“Being a celebrity is like running on a treadmill with an incline of four and a speed of 12. The trick is to keep breathing … If my show can add a bit of fun to my viewers’ life or they take away a bit of fitness, fashion or food from me, then I am happy. Even if my show inspires someone to take a walk outside their homes, I would be happy,” said Qureshi.
The glossy episodes follow Qureshi attempting different work-outs with celebrity trainers such as Namrata Purohit or Yasmin Karachiwala, eating food in Michelin-starred restaurants in Mumbai, and having animated discussions with her interior decorator who is now doing up her home in Mumbai.
Expect a fly-on-the-wall feel as you watch her document her messy, but glamorous life under constant public scrutiny. Qureshi, originally from Delhi, made her acting debut in 2010 and has acted in films including ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and ‘Dedh Ishqiya’. She made it in Bollywood without the help of industry insiders. Even as one of the most body positive stars in India today, does she fear her show comes off as a vanity project?
“Darling, I am an actor! So my whole life is a vanity project. People are actors because they are full of themselves and they are super vain,” said Qureshi with her trademark throaty laugh. If the show is half as much fun as our interview with Qureshi, she has a winner in her hands.
Excerpts from our candid chat with Qureshi as we discuss her new show, which premiered this March, the pressures of being a star and keeping up with appearances….
Q: Tell us about your new show ‘Fit Fab Feast with Huma Qureshi’?
My show is about fashion, fitness, and food — my three passions. And it’s on a network that we have all grown up watching. I remember watching those horror shows on Zee TV as a kid. So when I told my parents I was doing this show, they were very thrilled and felt it was cool. I have completed a circle. And, it’s cool to have your own show. It’s the first time in my career that I have been doing television like this in an exhaustive way … The idea behind my show was to talk about the three most important things in a person or an actor’s life. We wanted to go behind the scenes and show you what goes into our lives. You will see me make mistakes or try workouts that I am unable to do. The idea is not to do a glorified version of things.
So you have adopted a warts-and-mole approach to your celebrity?
I always think of myself as this random girl-next-door. I have come from humble beginnings and I am here today. I have made my share of public mistakes and I will continue to make them. No one is here to hold my hand and say: ‘Don’t do this or don’t do that’. The show will follow me as I go to places, explore, or try making something on my own in the kitchen — sometimes with disastrous results. There was a time when the camera followed me doing a workout that was incredibly difficult to do … This show will capture all that. It’s about letting go and it was a lot of fun.
Q: Out of curiosity, which workouts were tough for you?
Right from Pilates to Cross-Fit to working out at home with big water bottles can be difficult. Even going to a place where you can bounce and jump on a trampoline can be difficult … There are 10 episodes and you will see me do a different workout in every episode. There’s an episode documenting my interactions with a female stunt-person too … Good reality shows are usually the ones in which people reveal a part of their personality which you would normally not see. Being a celebrity is not just about going places and eating fancy food. It’s also about your string of faux pas. Post the pandemic in 2020, it has taught us that self-care is important. It’s taught us to look after our physical health, our mental health, and our spiritual health. For the first time in our lives, we were doing work outs at home, trying to colour our own hair or make our banana bread.
Q: Did the cameras make you feel vulnerable and on display?
The idea behind this show is to keep things free, flowing, and candid. For instance, like the episode in which my brother [Saquib Qureshi] makes an appearance, our conversation is free-flowing and not scripted. Or for instance, I am doing up my house right now and the show captures my interactions with my interior decorator. This show gives you accessibility to an actress’s life. There’s an episode where my acting coach attempts to make me say my lines in different ways … When people say I want to be an actress or a journalist, you are always curious about their process. We want to talk to people who have been working in that field to know how they did it and how they made it. There is always this curiosity. I am a sucker for finding out the process behind everything. I’m just trying to demystify the process towards looking good.
Q: Your title of the show seems to suggest that you can be fit even if you feast … Isn’t that contradictory?
If you are on a diet, you don’t have to eat just a cucumber. Healthy food can be a perfectly balanced meal and that won’t take your eyes off your goal. As human beings, we thrive on going out and eating at restaurants. You don’t want to miss out on that sense of community feel because you are watching your diet. People have this idea that you have to punish yourself and your body in order to look a certain way. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean that you punish yourself … Fit Fab Feast is an oxymoron. But what I am trying to tell you is that you can go to restaurants and still eat or drink healthy. It’s about making the right choices. It’s about educating yourself about what’s healthy for us. My show will underline that you can enjoy your life, feast, and be fit. There’s no need to starve yourselves to look good.
Q: Does your show tackle the amount of gym hours that celebrities clock in to look good or the gruelling training that they embark on before a big night?
Here’s the deal. It’s not about the trainer, it’s always about you. You don’t need a trainer, all you need is yourself … As women, we are so unkind to ourselves and we constantly need someone to tell you that we look good. There is no magic workout or miracle diets out there. You already know what you need to do, but you need to do it all in a way that empowers you. We need to learn how to love ourselves and erase this notion that working out means torturing ourselves or punishing ourselves after our favourite meal. Why don’t you tell yourself that I am going to run today because the air is beautiful or that I am hitting the treadmill to listen to my favourite podcast … Listen to your own body and then you don’t need a trainer, a fancy gym membership or fancier gym gear.
Q: How involved were you in the editing of the show?
We spoke about the guests that will appear in my show. They were usually my friends or people I have trained with. But it is completely the channel’s prerogative, but I participated in the process. We both were clear that if it’s a cut-copy-paste of some other show, it wouldn’t seem organic or real.
Q: What have you discovered about yourself during this pandemic?
Kindness is the new currency. Let’s all try to be kinder towards each other. If there’s something that disturbs you, you don’t have to solve it right away. Learn to let go if it’s not important.
Don’t Miss It!
‘Fit Fab Feast With Huma Qureshi’ is streaming on Zee Zest at 9pm on every Saturday and Sunday.