Thursday, March 14, 2013


“I attempted and failed. And then, that became a habit”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the March 9, 2013 issue of Super Cinema)

Simplicity is under-rated, and it’s rare to find actors with so much simplicity. While his intense, intimidating eyes, and strong persona, tell something else, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is such a simple man! An actor who just wants to keep working hard and, an actor who’s extremely comfortable in his individuality who would never want to ape anyone. While it’s only last year, that he saw a rise in his popularity with his acts in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, ‘Kahaani’ and ‘Talaash’, what most people tend to oversee is the fact that he’s faced so many failures, and struggled all through, to be where he is today. And obviously, the man deserves the accolades coming his way. It’s nice to know the real Nawaz behind the dark characters he’s been essaying. In a freewheeling chat, the actor talks about his journey, failures, his craft, and his upcoming film, Suparn Varma directed ‘Aatma’ that has him opposite Bipasha Basu. Read on…

The whole experience of shooting for ‘Aatma’, how has it been?
It’s been a tough process. But more than me, it was tough for Bipasha. It’s more difficult to get scared, than scare people. To portray fear is difficult. But the toughest part was to move away from the horror films that we see generally, and to do something different. Suparn (director) had the same expectations that if we’re casting Nawaz for the film, we have to do something different in the horror genre. We did not want to take the typical route and be predictable. So, I didn’t even go by the formulaic route of horror films. We didn’t make the film, over-the-top or unbelievable. We’ve tried to show fear in the normal day-to-day life. For instance, if you’re just sitting, you’re not expecting someone and they suddenly open the door and come in front of you. Or for example, you’re sleeping, and suddenly at 3 in the night, you see me sitting and staring at you, you would get scared.

Your choice of films has been quite unique…has that been a conscious decision?
For me do to a film now, it’s important that the film touches me in some way or the other. I should somewhere relate to it because of the experiences I’ve had in my life, or read something, somewhere. Generally, that’s my criteria for doing a film. As far as ‘Aatma’ is concerned, I signed it, because I could connect to and relate to the emotional triangle in the film.

Tell us your experience of working with director Suparn, and a co-actor like Bipasha, for ‘Aatma’
I’d always heard about Suparn that he’s very good, and very strong technically. But I didn’t really know how he treated his actors or what kind of performance does he get out of his actors; that I came to know when I went on the sets. Suparn’s way of getting the best out of his actors is truly commendable. He’s really good at it. He can even get an average actor to act well, just because of how he treats his actors. He explains the essence of a scene, and then leaves it to the actors to execute it the way they want to. For this film, Suparn gave me a lot of references and we had long discussions on it. I think that technique of his is very good. And, when I came to know that Bipasha was opposite me in the film, I was like, ‘Oh my God. She’s like this glamourous, very hot actress, and I’ve been a part of rather realistic, hardcore films’. I may be an actor, but at the end of the day, I’m first a normal human, and when you’re working with an actress like that, you tend to get nervous. I came to know 20 days before we started shooting that she’s with me in the film, and honestly, I’ve had a tough time those 20 days thinking about how it is going to be. And Bipasha remained in my thoughts all the time in those 20 days. Then when I went on the sets, she was all normal, and I was very nervous for the initial scenes. But she’s very easy-going, and very nice. So, she calmed me down, and slowly, it was all normal.

When you started out, did you think that, “I just want to be a part of this particular kind of cinema”?
Honestly, I had no expectations at all, because I had no work. A person who has nothing will always think that ‘whatever I get is good enough’. So, for me, it was like that. I was okay with any film that came my way. I was ready to do any little role that came my way. I didn’t really have a choice.

Your journey hasn’t been easy at all…
Initially, I started with very small roles. I kept going, because I didn’t have anything else to do. But, it’s only because of those small roles, that I started getting slightly bigger roles. I went step by step. I attempted and failed. And then that became a habit. I got to do 3-4 scenes in ‘Black Friday’, but before that I had already seen five years of struggle. Later, ‘Black Friday’ was banned; I sat at home and had nothing to do. When ‘Black Friday’ released, I finally got some appreciation. And then, again after a long struggle, I got a film like ‘Kahaani’. Thankfully, ‘Kahaani’ was a hit, and it got its due. At that time, I was already doing ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. It was an old promise that Anurag kept.

And did you ever anticipate that ‘GOW’ would do so well?
Not at all! (Smiles)

Seemingly, your failures have made you so strong, haven’t they? 
When you face failure, unconsciously, you start getting stronger from within. You can’t get weak. Just as I kept facing failures, from my core, I kept getting strong. I used to get frustrated, and also got depressed. But I didn’t have any other choice or option because I didn’t know what else I would do, if I returned back. I didn’t know any other work. The thought of returning back came to my mind several times, but later I thought, it would be a big insult, and people would make fun of me. So, then, I knew that I had to be here only, and I had to keep at it, no matter what. Then I was like, ‘Let’s see how it goes. I’ll just keep trying. Ten times, hundred times, thousand times, I’ll just keep trying.’ To keep attempting, became a part of who I am. I started believing that, ‘To attempt is Nawaz’s only job. That’s it. I don’t care if I get work or no. I’ll just keep trying’. And after a point of time, I had become ‘besharam’. Even in my personal life, things got so difficult that a task that a normal person could finish in three attempts, I took ten attempts for it, and still couldn’t accomplish. Obviously, it hasn’t been easy. But like I said, I didn’t have an option. It was my destiny, to just try, try and try!

The characters you play on-screen might leave people intimidated. People who don’t really know you, might think that you’re quite like your on-screen image. But you’re not…
An actor shouldn’t have any image. An actor should be like water. Just like water takes the shape of a container, an actor should fit into any character easily. So, I lead a very simple life. I lead a very simple life so that I can play complex characters easily, and can do different roles. If I made my life difficult, then, I’d only be able to do a certain kind of roles. As an actor, you need to have an extremely neutral personality, only then you’ll be able to do justice to various emotions you portray on-screen. If you have a typical personality, or thought process then you bring it on-screen too. And then, it seems fake. For instance, every actor wants to be smart. I see actors on stage dance, and talk. They talk well. But everyone wants to be smart and cool. But there’s monotony in every one’s personality. So, a person should stay according to what his nature is. He shouldn’t be like somebody else, in order to seem smart and cool. In the process of being all smart, your real core personality stays behind. The notion, that ‘a quintessential Hindi film hero should be like this and like that’, takes away your individuality from you. And then actors bring in so many changes, and shades to themselves to be someone else, that their originality, individuality gets lost. I’ll be what I am, and I’m okay with what I am. But when I’m playing a character, I will be totally different from what I am, because I allow that, since otherwise I am an original. But if your actual personality is only fake, then the character you play on-screen looks fake too. Having said that, I bring in something from my real self to the characters I play. One person can have ten emotions and various sides to him. You’re different with different people. I bring in something from myself to each character. So, I have the arrogance of a gangster and I can be Faisal Khan, and at the same time, I also have that reluctant guy from ‘Talaash’ within me that I bring out on-screen when I have to.

What is it that you love the most about being an actor?
In our real lives, we lie, I lie. This profession allows me to say the truth in that one moment through my character. I love acting, because in our real lives, we lie so many times, but while I act, I can, at least, get that one moment when I can be true to myself by being true to the character. When the camera is on, I want to be the character. I want to be Faizal Khan when I’m supposed to, and be absolutely true at that time. The normal man doesn’t get that opportunity to be true at most times.

Over the years, who has been your inspiration? Not just when it comes to acting, but in general too.
As far as acting is concerned, actors like Dilip Kumar, Naseeruddin Shah have been inspiration for me. But generally, people who just work hard, do small jobs, and someday dream to grow big, remain an inspiration. You know, those people, who just work with all their dedication without any expectations. Like I had this teacher in my village who never missed to come and teach us. Every normal person is my idol. The profession doesn’t matter. But nobody knows these people, and still they just keep working hard, without expecting much. 


  1. Nice to see the deserving guys get what they deserve and to know that it still keeps them down-to-earth.
    Thanks for posting

  2. He is one fine actor. I noticed him in Peepli Live.