By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: After being tossed around for 12 years Nawazuddin Siddiqui has found his métier. And how! A self-proclaimed famished actor Nawaz has quite suddenly come into his own during the past two years with a seemingly ceaseless string of whopping performances in out-of-the-box films.
His latest triumph is a 3-storeyed representation at Cannes. Three of Nawaz’s films – Amit Kumar’s dark and sinister Monsoon Shootout, Ritesh Batra’s intensely romantic Lunch Box and Bombay Talkies Viacom 18’s 4-segmented homage to a 100 years of Indian cinema- are the three Indian films that would be screened at the Cannes film Festival in May.
“And I am part of all three films. That gives me feeling of immense satisfaction. I’ve struggled for 12 years to get here. Bahot dhakke khaayen hain. I was pushed around, humiliated and shown the door. But I wanted to act. Even if I had to do it on streets I was willing,” says Nawaz emotionally.
It was during this time of churning that director Amit Kumar came forward with a short film entitled The Bypass. It changed Nawaz’s life.
“Before that I was mostly involved in theatre. I did plays where the discipline and dialogue delivery are different. Amit’s short film made me understand the cinematic aspect of acting. Filmmaker Asif Kapadia who had directed Irrfan Khan in the highly-acclaimed film Warrior was an assistant to Amit Kumar in The Bypass. Then when Amit offered me his first feature film Monsoon Shootout I grabbed it greedily.”
Nawaz plays a sharp-shooter in Monsoon Shootout. “It’s a sharp edgy thriller. It was great fun to shoot . I got to learn a lot from working with Amit.” says Nawaz.
Lunchbox was an entirely different experience.
Says Nawaz fondly, “For a change I play a light-hearted character.Being dark and edgy takes its toll on you. I am Irrfan’s jovial office collague in Lunchbox.
It’s a beautiful tender love story between Irrfan Bhai and Nimrit Kaur. And before you ask, there was absolutely no rivalry between Irrfan Bhai and me. Contrary to reports we get along fine. There’s enough for every actor who wants to make his presence felt.”
Plans are now being formulated for Nawaz’s Cannes trip in May. “I was in Cannes last year for Gangs Of Wasseypur and Miss Lovely.This time I’ll be representing three of my films.I don’t think it can get any better for me.”
For his role in Bombay Talkies which now goes to Cannes,as the closet-actor whose dreams are stifled by the harsh reality of everyday living Nawaz dug into his own days of struggle as an actor.
Says Nawaz fondly, “I play this man who wanted to be an actor but couldn’t as he got busy making a life and a living. There are scenes where he acts for his daughter..”