Sal Yusuf is a man of many talents. Having played a voice artist, stand-up comedian and a puppeteer in his past life, the British stage actor now makes his debut in Kannada cinema with a lead role with ‘French Biriyani’.
“My life can be made into a film,” says Yusuf, who was drawn towards arts quite early during his years in London.
Over time, he explored stage performances, directed plays, and even took to puppetry at Spitting Images (British satirical theatre puppet show). And if that wasn’t enough, he even conducted acting workshops for children, including those with special needs.
“I jump from one thing to another,” he says. “It’s a natural progression.”
After moving to India in 2007, this stand-up comedian from Bengaluru naturally set out to conquer Indian cinema next.
The small steps that began with Malayalam films such ‘Kili Poi’ and ‘Ustad Hotel’, paved the way to work in critically-acclaimed films such as ‘Take Off’ and ‘Iyobinte Pushtakam’.
Yusuf was last seen in Malayalam film ‘Trance’, but his real claim to fame was his role as the domineering Al Amir Baghdawi in Bollywood’s Salman Khan-starrer, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’.
Yusuf now steps into Kannada cinema with ‘French Biriyani’, playing the lead. The film sees him play Simon, a Frenchman who lands in Bengaluru and his subsequent meeting and travels with Asgar, an auto-driver, played by comedian Danish Sait.
“There is a misunderstanding and that leads to a comedy of errors,” explains Yusuf, who is familiar with the culture of auto-drivers in India. “I could draw from my own experiences for the role.”
Having worked with Sait on his shows in the past, Yusuf noted that the two of them could bounce off each other smoothly in this comic caper.
“For serious roles, you feed into emotions but comedy cannot be forced. It happens spontaneously. You don’t think and try to make it funny. You allow it to happen,” he insists.
Praising his director, Yusuf added that Pannaga Bharana let things happen. “He does not force anything. That’s what I liked about working with him.”
Yusuf said he was often surprised with Bharana’s attention to details and looked forward to being on the sets every day.
“Pannaga’s filmmaking is modern and he will go a long way,” Yusuf says.
Following the release of the film on July 24 on Amazon Prime Video, Yusuf and Sait will team up once again for the web series, ‘Humble Politician Nagaraj’.
Don’t miss it!
‘French Biriyani’ releases on Amazon Prime Video on July 24.