In 2012, a character actor called Nawazuddin Siddiqui suddenly had everyone’s attention when the Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani came out. His role of IB officer Mr Khan was short, but was enough to impress the critics. Later that year, when Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur films released, Nawaz secured his position, and became known as one of the most talented actors in the industry. Since then, there’s been no looking back.
But this success didn’t come easy. For 12 years, Nawaz struggled to find his place. Here, he talks to us about life before he became famous, his mother, what the future holds and why he wants to go back to acting school.
Do you look back at what life was like before you made it big?
I am not a nostalgic man. If life is giving me opportunities and good things, so be it. There was a lot of struggle in my life at one point; I don’t look at the past. I don’t even want to remember it.
Do you have friends in the film industry?
I don’t think so, but industry people are nice. I am still close to those friends who were with me before I was successful, and I’m sure even when I go downhill career-wise, they will still be my pals. A friend is one who loves and respects you regardless of your success or failure. For instance, those who used to abuse me in jest earlier and do so even now are my real friends.
You’ve maintained that your mother was the one person who always knew you would become successful. How does she feel now?
She was very confident. She was the first person to have faith in me. What makes her the happiest today is the fact that all those things she imagined for me have actually come true. She is satisfied.
Is it true that you want to try your hand at farming?
When working continuously, there always comes a saturation point. So, I would love to take a three- or four-month break and do some farming… or, for that matter, undergo some acting training again. Sometimes, I just want to become a student again, and learn new things because acting is like the deep sea for me. The more I learn about it, the more scared I am.
You have mentioned how going back to your village gives you relief. Do you plan to move back someday?
I get a lot of peace and sanctity there, but that doesn’t mean I want to stay there. I have to come back to Mumbai for work. If I simply stay put in my village, people will start asking me to go do some work or find a job (laughs).
What keeps you so grounded?
You should never let go of your roots. I am aware that a few things have changed, but I am still the same person I was. This is what life is.
Your latest film, Badlapur, is a success. How does it feel?
I had said yes to do this film within half an hour of the narration having started. I agreed to do it not because it is a ‘commercial’ film or because I thought it would do well at the box office, but because I knew this was the sort of script that would go beyond. For instance, even in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, I have a fantastic part. What attracted me was the story, besides an easy-going director (Kabir Khan) and a co-star like Salman (Khan). Now, tell me, which actor would let go of such an opportunity?
Does it upset you when your small films don’t get a lot of exposure?
The day these small movies start getting good marketing, the way The Lunchbox (2013) got, they will do wonders. Even Miss Lovely (2012) would have been way more successful if it was better promoted. All such films have low budgets, so some reasonable marketing is all they need to recover their money.
Do you ever worry about the standard of acting in Hindi films?
I don’t want to judge these things. I am a selfish actor and I have a responsibility only towards myself. If I am not up to the mark, I will feel guilty and curse myself.
Does direction interest you?
That is something I have never thought about. I can’t direct because that involves keeping five-six things in mind at one time. I can’t think about anything else but acting.