He might be portraying hard-hitting characters in critically-acclaimed cinema but two minutes into a chat with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the humble Budhana boy peeps out, through his simplicity.
Even as he opens up about his journey from the dingy gullies of Muzaffarnagar to appearing on the cover of fashion glossies, the 39-year-old says that success doesn’t overwhelm him anymore. For a minute you wonder if that’s his arrogance speaking, but he proves you wrong, saying, “Had I got all this fame a few years back, I’d have been flying in the air but now, at this stage, I can’t afford to lose myself by basking in glory. I mean, theek hai, kaam ke wajah se hi toh yeh sab kuch pehchaan mil raha hai … I have struggled for years, so it’s okay … right now my focus is just to keep doing good work.”
So does good work mean he’s ready to take up any good role even when it’s not the lead? “No, I have done a lot of them (miniscule roles) already. Now I just want to concentrate on playing the lead,” says Nawaz, who has spend over a decade in Bollywood with unnoticed performances, playing either a thief, a pickpocket, a dhobi, a waiter, a watchman or just a part of the crowd in umpteen number of films including Salaakhen (1998), Sarfarosh (1999) and Shool (1999), until he landed with meaty roles in 2012 with Kahaani, Gangs of Wasseypur (I and II) and Talaash.
“Every actor wants to grow … It’s like playing a full length character in your real life … harr actor ka mann hota hai ki woh ek level se uthke agle level pe jaye,” adds Nawaz, who’s currently looking forward to his upcoming release, Miss Lovely, that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. Ironically, in this film, Nawaz, who admits to have dreamt of acting in C-grade films as a teenanger, plays the role of a C-grade filmmaker in love with a struggling actress (Niharika Singh).