When director Ali Abbas Zafar and Neelesh Mishra conceived the story of Tiger Zinda Hai, the former was certain of one aspect - his script demanded a villain who wasn't one-dimensional or exaggerated, as is the practice in Bollywood. We hear the director scouted for six months before he zeroed in on Iranian actor Sajjad Delafrooz to play the antagonist in the Salman Khan-starrer. Inspired by the real-life incident of 46 Indian nurses being taken hostage by the ISIS in 2014, the spy thriller sees Delafrooz play Abu Usman, the leader of the terrorist group that executes the hostage.
Salman Khan and Sajjad Delafrooz in Tiger Zinda Hai
"Ali held auditions in Middle East, UK and Morocco. Since the role is that of an Iraqi terrorist, the prerequisite was that the actor be fluent in Arabic and Hindi," reveals a source, adding that Delafrooz fit the bill. Delafrooz's biggest challenge was to match up to his co-star, Khan's screen presence. But the Iranian actor seems to have already impressed the superstar. Khan says, "Sajjad has done a fabulous job in portraying a monster, who will stop at nothing to destroy peace. He has made this character his own."
The actor adds that Delafrooz has interpreted his role in a way that makes him more menacing than the gun-toting antagonists in other films. "He is the deadliest villain I have faced in my career. Cold, shrewd and fearless to die, the villain in our film is a fanatic, which makes him even more dangerous than conventional villains that generally take on the hero."
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