Even as Nawazuddin Siddiqui continues to wow audiences with content-driven roles, he is also expanding his repertoire by starring alongside Salman Khan in an upcoming film. He talks about that role, the comparison with Irrfan Khan and why he deserves a pay hike.
What was the biggest problem you faced during your struggling days?
The biggest frustration was that no one was ready to accept faces like mine as heroes. This happens even today. While doing the lead role in Gangs Of Wasseypur (GOW), people would ask who the hero was. On being told that it was me, they’d say, ‘Picture nahi chalegi’ (the movie won’t work) to my face.
You made your debut with Aamir Khan (Sarfarosh, 1999) and recently worked with him in Talaash (2013) again. How was the experience different?
Aamir saab had forgotten me (smiles). I didn’t tell him that I had faced the camera for the first time with him. During the shooting of Talaash, I told him about it and he was surprised. He stopped the shoot and told everyone about me and that I had worked with him in Sarfarosh.
Read: Nawazuddin Siddiqui wanted to do C-grade films
Some people say that you are the ‘new Irrfan Khan’. Does that hurt or frustrate you?
I definitely feel bad. I have come here to become Nawazuddin, and no one else and that includes Irrfan or others. It is frustrating. I have spent 20 years of my life in the field since I started doing theatre in 1992. For 20 years, I have been in the process of finding Nawazuddin. After that if someone says, ‘You are the new XYZ,’ how would one feel? It’s not only Irrfan, I’d feel bad on being compared to any other actor too.
Of course. I am not committing a crime. Everyone needs money and I am no different. It’s not for luxury or a big home; I still live in a rented place. I need it (money) because an ‘actor’ too should get treatment like a ‘star’. He should also get remuneration accordingly because he also has a big fan following. You notice this when you go out (of the country). I am not talking about other actors, but I feel that I should raise my price.
Read: I'm not here to give only good performances, says Nawazuddin
Talk is that you only want to do solo films now.
I already have six-seven solo films coming up. I will do both — solo films and multi-starrers. I am doing a film like Kick, which will increase my mass appeal because Salman Khan is a superstar. I am excited about working with him. He brings a lot of honesty to his work. The entire country will see the film and that’s good for me. I will do my kind of films too.
And lastly, what about the ‘war of words’ controversy with Rishi Kapoor?
That’s a non-issue for me.