Aamir is extremely encouraging: Nawazuddin Siddiqui
He is the toast of the current breed of directors. Offers are coming to him by the dozen and he admits to refusing around six every day. Success would have gone to his head had he been a newcomer, he says. But having been in the industry for 12 years, he knows it inside out. There were actors before him and there will be many after him too. In Kolkata for the workshop of ‘Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa’, he tells us his kahaani. Meet the man of the moment — NawazuddinSiddiqui.How did Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa happen?
I’ve watched Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s films and heard a lot about him. When the offer was made, I gave my go-ahead first. The script and the role were narrated to me later. It’s like I had to work with him. Also, when the narration was made in Mumbai, I found the script very interesting. The film industry is mostly about unidimensional characters. But here is a role with multiple layers. It’s not a character you can refuse.
You are in Kolkata for the film’s workshop. The last time you shot here, it was for Kahaani.
I kind of discovered Kolkata when I was shooting here for Kahaani. I found the city fascinating. Be it Mirza Ghalib Street or Shakespeare Sarani, I have never seen a city which loves literature and flaunts its love for it this way! Coming from theatre background and being exposed to literature at an early age, I could immediately relate to it. This is perhaps the only city in India that has a mix of both — old and new. From heritage buildings to modern technology, Kolkata embraces all like no other.
Aren’t you reminded of your Kahaani days?
Yes, of course. I was on a diet when I was shooting for Kahaani. And Sujoy (Ghosh) would tag me along on his bazaar trips. There, I would inevitably chance upon mithai shops and that would be the end of my diet! I remember gorging on unlimited sweets and piling on quite a few kilos during the shoot. That’s the reason I’m scared of coming to Kolkata. You can’t refuse the food here. We were putting up at a guest house on Sarat Bose Road and I do not remember sparing a single restaurant on that stretch.
It’s just over a year and life, for you, seems to have changed a lot.
Neither Sujoy nor I had ever imagined that Kahaani would be such a big success story. When we were shooting, it never crossed our minds. Even after the film released, for the first one or two days, it was just warming up at the box office. After that, word of mouth spread and for the audience it became a must-watch. Saare log Khan, Khan, Khan, Khan karne lage. Bombay industry ko pata nahin tha IB officers aise bhi hote hai! Wahan logon ko Bandra aur Borivili ke agey maloom hi nahin hai. Stars acting karenge, officers lambe chaure honge — that’s how they perceive a cop. But Sujoy has shown to the world how a police officer too can look like a normal person like you and I. Successful casting went a long way in the film being such a big hit.
So, Kahaani was the turning point?
Kahaani gave me popularity and Gangs of Wasseypur stardom…
When did you sign your first autograph?
I was shooting for Kahaani and GOW back to back. I was in a village on work, where a man extended a paper to me. For a minute I thought he wanted another actor’s autograph. I looked back and forth, but there was no one. That was quite an experience.
You’ve recently said that you wouldn’t want to do character roles anymore.
Yes, I have decided to concentrate on lead roles. Agar aap supporting roles karte rahe, log automatically aap ke upar supporting actor ka stamp laga denge… iss actor ne yeh role kiya hai, isse issi category mein lete hai. Maine jaan bujh ke aisa decision liya hai. Industry ke log khud hi bolte hai koi role chhota bada nahi hota hai, par khud hi slot kar lete hai. I do not understand what they mean when they say such things.
But the industry, at present, can’t stop gushing about Nawazuddin.
I have been working here for the past 12 years and such things do not make a difference to me anymore. Yeh time time ki baat hai. The industry has been gaga over actors before me, and will mete out the same treatment to people after me. Had I been a newcomer or if films like Kahaani, GOW or Talaash were happening to me one after another, main toh udne lagta. But I have been here for long, I know exactly how the industry functions. I’m not thinking about recognition. For me, what matters most is quality work. You started off with a bit role in Sarfarosh, went on to do Aamir Khan’s production — Peepli Live — and was also part of Talaash.
How has your association with the actor been?
We share a beautiful relationship. Everyone knows how professional Aamir is, but as an actor I feel he is extremely encouraging towards others. Jab bhi baat karta hoon, woh bolte hai, ‘bahut achha hua, aur tarakki karo’. He is full of praise for me…
You are part of quite a few international projects as well.
They are primarily Hindi films, which are co-financed by people abroad. A film like Miss Lovely is meant to represent India outside the country. It won a lot of appreciation too. Pehle log sochte thay ki Bollywood mein gaane bajane wale movies bante hai. Slowly, that perception is changing, which is good. These films are not only doing good in the country, but are winning acclaim internationally. I think, it’s a very good time for Indian cinema.
Anything after Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa?
No, I haven’t signed any film.
So, how many offers are you refusing every day?
From two to six. On a given day, around six films come my way. But I’m scanning them all, while being choosy. I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of doing a good film.
Will Inspector Khan be back in Kahaani 2?
It’s always the director’s prerogative and I’m yet to hear from Sujoy.