The bollywood actor talks about his journey from a farmers community to make it big in the hindi cinemas
Sneh Singh | November 15, 2016 | New Delhi
Coming from a family of farmers in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, Nawazuddin Siddiqui has made it big in the Hindi film industry. Beginning his career as a theatre actor, the National School of Drama alumnus struggled to break the stereotype of a conventional hero. After several less-noticed performances, Nawazuddin bagged the Jury Award at the 2012 national film awards. He has played iconic characters in films like Black Friday, Gangs of Wasseypur, Kahaani, Manjhi: The Mountain Man, The Lunchbox and Raman Raghav 2.0, to name a few. Nawazuddin had to pull out of the Ramleela performance recently when some Hindu activists protested over his participation.
What inspired you to join theatre?
I had no inclination towards creative arts as I was a science graduate. It was only when my friend took me to watch a play that I got fascinated by the chemistry between the audience and the actors and decided to do theatre.
Were your parents supportive when you chose acting as your career?
There was no opposition. I come from a farmer’s family so they did not have much idea about what I was doing. I told them that after studying in the NSD I would get a job in radio or somewhere else. Like all parents, they wanted me to complete my education and get a job.
How can the life of farmers be improved?
Marginal or small farmers suffer the most. First, they don’t have access to proper irrigation methods. Second, they don’t get an appropriate amount in return for their crops. The rates in the mandi [market] keep fluctuating and farmers having no storage facility end up selling their produce at cheaper rates. The government should focus on these areas that trouble small farmers.
What were your initial challenges in the film industry?
The major challenge was that of acceptance. People, even in the industry, think that a hero should be fair and tall. I was rejected several times for my looks. It took me 12-14 years of struggle to break this image and establish myself as an actor.
Toughest character you played so far?
What are you working on at present?
I have just finished shooting for Babu Moshai. Munna Michael and Nandita Das’s film Manto, based on Saadat Hasan Manto’s life, are my next projects.
Last time you travelled in a train?
It was almost five-six years back. Journey in trains is always nice. I would love to travel in trains but I don’t think it’s possible now.
When was the last time you visited a government office?
I visited a passport office to get my passport renewed. The service has now become quite hi-tech and it takes less time to get a passport unlike what it was seven-eight years ago.
What is your message to aspiring actors?
They should be honest and hardworking. Today, actors spend a lot of time on mobile and internet which consumes their time. In our times, there were fewer distractions. They must limit the use of these devices and should concentrate on their acting skills.
(The interview appears in the November 1-15, 2016 issue)
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