Zain in a still from Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz
Valentine's Day comes every year, but this year it came love-soaked with Onir's Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, a film based on young love and its insecurities. Now we all know the female lead, Geetanjali Thapa — the National Award-winner for Liar's Dice, India's official entry to the 87th Academy Awards. But who is Zain Khan Durrani?
Now go check out the trailer of Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, and come back. If the above question still haunts you, read on.
#1 Zain Khan Durrani is a debutant actor who started off as an assistant director working with Onir on Shab. He always wanted to get into acting but has never had any formal training — which means no acting schools or theatre groups. His learning, so to speak, has been on the job, working with Onir. Though he insists that all he managed to do on Shab was give the clap before every shot, observing the inner workings of movie-making did help him understand the craft.
#2 Zain was born and brought up in Srinagar, and finished his schooling from Burn Hall School, Srinagar. He was raised in a family of four — his father (a third-generation Afghan living in India. Now you know where he inherits that buttery diction from) is a doctor, his mother, a Punjabi, is a professor of Psychology, and an elder sister.
#3 Though quite into academics, Zain has always had a knack for fine arts. At one point in school, he participated in a singing competition, only to the dismay of his teachers who thought his voice was too shrill, almost like that of a young girl.
#4 Lack of opportunities in Srinagar prompted Zain to leave the city and move to Delhi for further studies. Zain spent the next three years studying commerce and prepping for the IAS exams — something he believes would have been his profession, if he hadn't come to acting.
#5 Much like how ittefaq or coincidence plays a role in the movie Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, a friend of Zain's in Mumbai came across an audition when Onir was casting for Shab. The lead of Shab back then was supposed to be a Kashmiri guy and he thought Zain would fit the bill. "Just give it a try," he said and Zain did.
#6 Well, he didn't get Shab, obviously. But Onir knew he wanted to work with Zain in a film soon. In 2017, the script for Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz came to him. However, since there was a big production house involved, there were elaborate auditions for the character of Alfaaz. Zain, like hundreds of others, auditioned and eventually, as ittefaq would have it, was selected. It was only after he landed the role, did Onir reveal that he always had Zain in mind when he imagined Alfaaz.
#7 Much like Alfaaz in the film, Zain is a hopeless romantic and a poet. Although not one in the closet. He's been writing poetry since he was 13 and he still does. (What were you up to at the age of 13?) "Unlike Alfaaz who keeps his identity hidden, I am unabashed when it comes to poetry," says Zain about his knack for rhyming words. And he uses Instagram as his canvas.
#8 Zain is an ambivert — a bit of both introvert and extrovert. Aren't we all?
#9 Zain is a foodie and guess what he fell in love with while he was shooting for the film in Kolkata? Chitol machh. That's right, not rosogolla. Go figure.
#10 Guess what his dream role is? Since he is a poet, Zain hopes to be cast in the role of Guru Dutt if there is ever a remake of Pyaasa. Sigh. They don't make 'em like this anymore...