When Nawazuddin, then doing a small time job of chemist left his home to try luck in films, people used to say that he is destined for failure due to his ordinary face and personality. But he has proved them all wrong. Now, he is much sought after actor in the Bollywood.
- When an intense Nawazuddin Siddiqui suddenly pops up in the trailer of a mainstream masala film, the first thought is: Has he switched sides? The actor who’s the poster boy of Indian indies says that the grey character he plays in Kick is an exception which he made to extend his market.”Salman’s (Khan) star power makes Kick a mass entertainer. By being a part of it, I can help my small films find a bigger audience,” he reasons. Nawaz is bitterly disappointed that despite the international acclaim and all the awards, a film like Miss Lovely disappeared without a trace. “Sajid (Nadidawala) spent more on the costumes of Kick than these people did on Miss Lovely’s entire promotion. The film just came and went. Pifffft!” he sighs. He’s aware that unless marketed well, the same could happen to the upcoming Monsoon Shootout, which garnered much appreciation at both, Cannes and Toronto film festivals.
READ: I was a rejected actor: Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Won’t the disappointment eventually turn to disillusionment? Naseeruddin Shah, one of the pioneers of the parallel cinema of the ’70s, is cut up that the fil-ms he did for a pittance gave him little in return except for a few National Awards. Nawaz asserts that the scenario is different for indie cinema today. These Rs 4-5 crore film do a business of around Rs 20 crore thanks to a more receptive audience.
“Even the ones that don’t do well, can recover their cost from satellite rights. So, the risk is negligible, unlike in the ’70s when many such films didn’t even make it to the theatres. Today, Gangs of Wasseypur, Kahaani and The Lunchbox are hits globally,” he beams.
Was The Lunchbox as delicious for him as it was for his co-actor and the film’s coproducer Irrfan Khan? “It gave me more than I had expected-Best Supporting Actor at the New York Film Festival, the Asian Film Festival and even at Filmfare,” Nawaz crows.
So why the rivalry with Irrfan? That, he insists, was media created, pointing out that they were on stage together at Sundance. “I respect Irrfan as my senior.As actors we do our own thing,” he says.
So, is Salman his new buddy? Nawaz laughs, pointing out that Salman bonded more with Randeep (Hooda), even whisking him off to the gym. “Looking at me, he must have realised that there was no scope for growth here,” he grins.
Buzz is, after getting the Salman Khan starrer Kick, he has escalated his pay packet to Rs 1 crore ? This draws another laugh, “I was getting the figure you mentioned even before Kick. Yes, the film has given me a financial boost. I don’t need the money, but like the stars, we actors have our fan following too and a hike in salary shows respect.”
Since the characters he plays are so complex, he keeps his life simple. “My brother got me a ghar and a gaadi, I didn’t come to the city for money. I often think of getting a farm near Pune or Nashik and doing some khetibadi. After all, I am a farmer. I can come to Mumbai when work calls,” he says.
But from what we’ve heard, when Rajkumaar Rao came visiting in an Audi, he wanted to trade his Endeavour for the sedan. Nawaz wishes for a Maruti 800 which is easier to manoeuvre. “I find my car too big. So, I often travel in rickshaws,” he says.
Meanwhile, Kick hasn’t brought in any big offers. Buzz about Raees, he says, is pure fiction. “Mujhe khud bhi nahin pata tha film kab mere paas aayi and kab maine refuse kiya,” he laughs. “I read about it in the papers but I was never approached. Had I been, may be I would have accepted it.”
The only other commercial film he has is Sriram Raghavan’s dark thriller Badlapur. He’s trying to give the character a 3D appearance. That apart, he is experimenting with comedy in Ghoomketu, is in awe of Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s one-take trolley shots for Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa and is amazed by the love Maajhi: The Mountain Man had for his wife. After she fell off a mountain, he spent 22 years carving out a road from it. “I’ve never done anything like this for my wife,” he admits.
Rumours are rife that there are frequent tiffs at home and there were even talks of a divorce. “We’ve been married for four years. There must have been hardly four days when we haven’t fought,” he laughs. “Jhagda to hota rehti hai, lekin baat divorce tak kabhi aayi nahin. Haal chal theek thak hai!” Inshallah!