He’s known as one of India’s finest actors after films such as Kahaani and Gangs of Wasseypur (both 2012), but what you probably don’t know about Nawazuddin Siddiqui is that he wanted to act in an altogether different genre of films.
“In Budhana, my village in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, all we saw in our growing years was C-grade sleazy horror films ... so I thought that if I had to be an actor and do all those kissing scenes, I will have to act in C-grade films. At that time, my dream was to act in those films,” admits the 39-year-old.
“In fact, I have acted in a few C-grade films because that’s what I got initially, apart from playing a pick-pocket, watchman and a criminal in several films for more than a decade,” says Nawaz, who worked as a watchman in Delhi while he studied at the National School of Drama. He then moved to Mumbai.
“I had to hang on in Mumbai because I couldn’t have gone back to Delhi or even my village. Back in Delhi, they (colleagues in theatre) would have said “main haar ke waapas aa gaya. (I returned defeated)” When I left my village for acting, everyone made fun of me, ki ‘yeh chehra lekar chala hai hero banne’ (with that face he’s trying to become a hero),” says Nawaz, who was spotted by Paresh Rawal in Firaaq (2008).
“Pareshji recommended me to Ashim (director Ashim Ahluwalia) for Miss Lovely (which releases next month), and I got my first film as a lead,” he says. Ask him if he ever felt demotivated in his struggling days and he smiles, “A lot of times ... but my mother used to write letters to me and they kept me going.”
Dibakar Banerjee's film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sadashiv Amrapukar and it explores an emotional father-son relationship. The film has been adapted from Satyajit Ray's film Star and has a Marathi flavour to it.