We met Nawazuddin Siddiqui last week at his Versova office. The room in which we were seated was adorned with posters of the actor’s films. A few shelves were stacked with books featuring the writings of Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai and other iconic Indian authors. As he eased up on a lounge chair, the 42-year-old began to talk about his career, and why he doesn’t like to term movies as commercial or indie cinema.
You became famous after the release of Gangs Of Wasseypur (GOW; 2012). Why did it take you so long to establish yourself?
I was working hard since 2000. [With the release of GOW] people’s perception of me changed. When you start doing well, people start viewing you in a different light. My job is to keep doing films. People can keep changing their opinion as and when they please. I have understood that you can never be [too] late. If you’re getting what you want after 40 years of struggle, it means you’re not late. If you want something wholeheartedly, your entire life may not be enough to achieve it.
Watch: Nawazuddin in Gangs of Wasseypur II
You’ve essayed a lot of grey characters. Did you ever feel that you were being stereotyped?
You know, it is the hero in Bollywood — the one who only acts in love stories throughout his 25-year career — who is being typecast. A hero does 25-30 films, in which he plays only positive characters. Doing grey roles saved me from being typecast. Being a hero is a typecast. This is something our directors have done. There’s only one type of Bollywood hero today.
A lot of actors are now doing unconventional roles. Do you feel threatened that the niche that you created for yourself is being invaded?
I don’t have a copyright over such roles. Anyone can do them. It’s probably a new trend here, but in the west, most characters are grey in nature. Playing tragic roles comes easily to me. To make the audience laugh and cry is the easiest thing to do. The hardest thing is to make them think.
Freaky Ali team with Salman Khan in Dubai pic.twitter.com/T3Mr5Y0XWl— Nawazuddin Siddiqui (@Nawazuddin_S) August 31, 2016
You have a reputation for rejecting commercial films…
I don’t categorise projects as commercial or as art cinema. I don’t believe in these terms. For me, there are only two kinds of movies — good and bad. To be honest, there are many bad films that are being made in the name of so-called indie films. Just because they’ve been sent to a film festival doesn’t mean they are good. A good film is one that is liked by all kinds of audiences.