Actor Huma Qureshi has been in Bollywood for the past five years — she came into the limelight with Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), and then was part of films like D-Day (2013) and Jolly LLB 2 (2017).

Although she is well known now, there was a time when Huma was trying to make a name for herself. Recalling those days, and the advice she got then, she laughs now.

“I was asked to change my name, as there’s a Pakistani actor with the same name and [I was told] that I wouldn’t want that association, [more so] since I wanted to be the leading lady. I was like, ‘I am not going to do that. I will always be Huma Qureshi and people will have to deal with that,’” says Huma, who will next be seen alongside superstar Rajinikanth in a film directed by Pa. Ranjith.

Talking about her early days trying to get a break in films, Huma, a Delhi girl, says that she started getting advertising work as soon as she reached Mumbai. “I started getting a lot of work once I came to Mumbai. I was working with some of the biggest ad filmmakers. But I had to give auditions,” she says.

“There would be days when I’d pack a dabba in the morning and head out. I remember this Gujarati aunty would pack my tiffin because I wanted to eat ghar ka khana. Casting agents would send us messages like, ‘Today’s look Indian or Western.’ And then, we’d pack a big bag with all our changing options and go to places that we hadn’t even heard of. Then we’d go and change in some dingy casting agent’s studio and give the audition. Sometimes we were rejected — you have to take all sorts of comments from people. It was hard, new, and challenging.”