I have been rejected many times because of my looks: Nawazuddin Siddiqui

In an interview to HT City Nawaz reveals that a top heroine turned him down because she thought he would not match up to her, lookwise; Industry insiders react to Nawaz’s tweet.

bollywood Updated: Jul 18, 2017 17:56 IST
Shreya Mukherjee
Shreya Mukherjee
Hindustan Times
Nawazuddin Siddiqui,Bollywood,Babumoshai Bandookbaaz
Nawazuddin Siddiqui has spoken out about the skin-colour discrimination that is rampant in Bollywood.(AFP)

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui may have established himself as one of the finest actors in Bollywood, but his recent tweet hints at the industry’s never-ending obsession with fair skin and good looks. In his tweet, Nawaz wrote, “Thank U 4 making me realise dat I cannot b paired along wid d fair & handsome bcz I m dark & not good looking, but I never focus on that (sic).” Nawaz was reacting to a comment by the casting director of his upcoming film, Sanjay Chouhan.

In an interview, Chouhan said, “…Keeping Nawaz in mind, all other characters were taken on board. We can’t cast fair and handsome people with Nawaz. It would look so weird...” The Twitterati came out in support of the actor. While one user, @aaliaaaliya wrote, “You are one of the finest actors around. Looks has nothing to do with acting skills... you are An actor! a performer of a different league.”, another user @SaifManager replied, “Dnt worry nawaz bhai, ajay devgan ne Aishwarya rai ke sath kaam kiya hai, aap to fir bhi usse handsome ho..” In fact, his industry colleagues, filmmakers Hansal Mehta, Ritesh Batra and actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, also tweeted voicing their support for him.

Reacting to it, Mehta says, “I think people should stop doing such things to bring actors like Nawaz’s calibre down. They should be nurtured rather than mocked. I personally feel that Nawaz is quite a gorgeous man and I am going to tell him that.”

Director Shyam Benegal , actor Tannishtha Chatterjee and filmmaker Hansal Mehta also voiced their support to Nawazuddin on Bollywood being bias toward looks.

Speaking about his own experience with discrimination on the basis of skin colour, Mehta shares, “I remember the reaction I got for my short film Highway. A TV channel said that both my leading actors are so dark.”

Filmmaker Shyam Benegal feels that such kind of discrimination, racism and stereotypes have been there for the past 100 years. “I found it ridiculous and broke the trend by casting Smita (Patil). I was told how I could cast a dark little girl as the heroine of my film. I think it’s part of the Indian psyche, which is hard to change,” he adds.

Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, who worked with Nawazuddin in Lion (2016) voicing a similar opinion says, “Why just blame Bollywood? The film industry is a reflection of the society. They would make films that will get them more business. When I walked out of the TV show (Comedy Nights Bachao for being roasted on her skin colour) many said why I couldn’t take jokes on myself, without understanding that I was simply trying to highlight a deep-rooted problem. Not just in India even in the west a princess is always a blue-eyed blond.”

Meanwhile, Nawaz who was in Delhi on Tuesday to promote his upcoming film, reiterated his stand on the skin-colour debate and told HT City, “A lot of people in this industry are racist. Because of this, I have been rejected a lot of times.”

In an earlier interview to HT, Nawazuddin had said how a leading female actor in Bollywood declined the offer of starring opposite him for his looks. “Looks still seems to be the deciding factor in the industry in most cases. Pehle bhi tha aur abhi bhi hain. Recently, when the director of one of my films approached a famous actress, she rejected the offer saying hinting at how we don’t match lookwise and added ‘he is a good actor par nehi yaar abhi nehi karni hain…’” recounts Nawazuddin without divulging her name.

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First Published: Jul 18, 2017 17:52 IST