Irony is unavoidable.
When it comes to acting, no Bollywood fan can skip a name called Nawazuddin Siddiqui. From his very first role in Sarfarosh to standalone hero in some Bollywood movies, he has been progressing slowly but steadily towards stardom. However, all the fame he has didn’t come overnight. It took more than 15 years to get where he is. His story is inspiring to anyone who is looking for some motivation in times when feeling down.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in his own words and very appropriately, describes himself as a “kaala kaluta”, who cannot boast of a physique, looks or personality that fit the image of a quintessential Bollywood hero. He rather boasts of how easily he becomes one in a crowd. Here is an inspiring interview of Nawaz you all will love to read.
From a village in UP to Bollywood
I come from Budhana, a small village in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. We had just one kachcha cinema hall with a tin roof, nadi paar (by the river). Only C-grade films used to play in that theatre. I grew up watching those films. Then, when I went to National School of Drama, I was introduced to world cinema. That was the leap my cinema studies helped me undertake. I kind of missed the beech ka Bollywood films-waala part. But then, I never wanted to be an actor. It was just a sudden thing. I was studying chemistry.
Impact of Theater’s
Yes. I saw a performance by Manoj Bajpayee in the play Uljhan and the chemistry that the actor and the audience shared came across like magic. If the actor was crying, the audience also cried; if he was bad, then the audience hooted. For an actor doing theatre, a performance is like going for a body scan — the audience can see and feel everything. The audience doesn’t care kaun kiss ka beta hai ya pota hai (the audience doesn’t care who is whose son or grandson)… actor jaisa karega waisa hi response paayega (an actor will get the response he deserves). I found the whole process empowering. But I never wanted to do films. I wanted to do theatre all my life.
So then how did films happen?
After doing theatre for over seven years, I was broke. By that time, I had fallen in love with acting and I couldn’t leave it. I thought if I have to die of hunger, I might as well do so in Mumbai. I had no hope of landing any film role in Mumbai, but I felt I had nothing to lose. I tried my luck in television, but our daily soaps were so glossy that I didn’t fit in. I did a few walk-on shots in a few films — I had a 40-second role in Sarfarosh, miniscule footage in Shool and Munnabhai MBBS. I did a few advertisements where I was part of the crowd, but I used to turn my face away from the camera.
During your struggling days, did you never think of giving up and going back to Budhana?
So many times I felt I was wasting my time because things were just not working out. But I couldn’t even go back. What would I do there? Spent all my life acting and I don’t know any other work. Also, I was afraid my friends would tease me. Arrey hero banne gaya tha, wapas laut aaya (He had gone to become an actor and has returned with nothing).
Life Changing Moment
That happened when I met Anurag Kashyap. Woh bahut saare actors ko hope dete hain, thodi hope unhone mujhe bhi de di (He gives hope to a lot of actors, he gave a bit of it to me too). He signed me for Black Friday and I felt that this would be my take-off. Unfortunately, the film got banned. My life changed in 2009 when indie cinema was coming into its own and my films Patang and Miss Lovely were screened in film festivals across the world. Then Peepli Live, New York and Kahaani got me noticed.
The role from which audience Love “Nawazuddin Siddiqui”
Faizal’s character in Gangs of Wasseypur.
Toughest role you have tackled so far
I’d say Manjhi — The Mountain Man, because the role required me to age from 22 years to 70 years. Physically, it was a challenge. I used a real hammer in all the scenes where I’m shown breaking the mountain. If I hadn’t used a real hammer, then that force would look fake. They teach us in method acting that a weapon should look like the character’s property. I wanted the hammer to look like it belonged to me.
Once I’m done playing them, I start hating the characters. They take so much from my life that I just want them to go away. Like, for over a year-and-a-half, I lived with Manjhi’s character. Once the film wrapped up, I said bhaad mein jaaye yeh character (let this character go to hell) and I went to a small village near Jaisalmer to purge myself of him. I lived amongst the locals and started feeling like myself again.
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