One film at a time: Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Crit­i­cally ac­claimed ac­tor Nawazuddin Siddiqui says in this Q&A that he doesn’t care about any of the trap­pings of show­biz

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Hol­ly­wood Reporter has called you handsome and com­pared you with Ital­ian ac­tor Marcello Mas­troianni?

To be called handsome by one of the most au­thor­i­ta­tive pub­li­ca­tions on Amer­i­can cin­ema is some­thing I value. I have never been called handsome in my own coun­try, not by the peo­ple I know, not by crit­ics who love my work. So it's a great kick.

As for be­ing com­pared with Mas­troianni… Oh, my God! He is such a bril­liant ac­tor, so skilled and with such a riv­et­ing screen pres­ence. When I'd see him per­form in the films of direc­tor Vit­to­rio de Sica, I'd won­der how that level of nat­u­ral­ism can be achieved in a per­for­mance.

You are get­ting there. Your per­for­mance in Manto is some­thing Mas­troianni would have recog­nised.

I've tried to keep my in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Saa­dat Hasan Manto as quiet, re­strained and con­trolled as pos­si­ble. Manto never raises his voice. Yet he never has a prob­lem get­ting in peo­ple to lis­ten to him. The louder we speak, the more we ex­pose our in­se­cu­ri­ties about los­ing our iden­tity. We In­di­ans speak too loudly.

Like Mas­troianni, you never have to raise your voice to be heard?

You know, I was in Rome for one-and-a-half months shooting for my friend Tan­nishtha Chat­ter­jee's film. And I vis­ited the mu­seum de­voted to Mas­troianni. Just to see all the arte­facts from his films, to savour and ex­pe­ri­ence his life, was a tremen­dous thing for me. Where are the mu­se­ums for our great ac­tors like Ashok Ku­mar and Dev Anand?

Who are the other ac­tors you ad­mire?

I don't ad­mire ac­tors. I ad­mire per­for­mances. I saw this Hong Kong film In The Mood For Love.

And I was blown away by Tony Le­ung's per­for­mance. I thought Michael Keaton was mind­blow­ing in Bird­man.

But my favourite per­for­mance is Leonardo DiCaprio's in The

Wolf of Wall Street. He played

the char­ac­ter as wildly as pos­si­ble not both­er­ing about pitch and rhythm. I like that sense of un­pre­dictabil­ity in the per­for­mance.

You con­stantly strive for it?

I do. I don't care about any of the trap­pings of show­biz. I wouldn't say I don't care about the money. But that comes from the big com­mer­cial films. The money I make do­ing Ge­nius em­pow­ers me to do Manto which I did for free.

Do you get enough money in com­mer­cial films?

Our film in­dus­try knows your ex­act value and they pay you the amount you de­serve. Not a penny more not a penny

less. So yes, I'd say I am paid well by main­stream cin­ema.

How do you choose from the dozens of of­fers ev­ery week?

I sit with my team over ev­ery of­fer. We look at my char­ac­ter and the set-up. The main cri­te­rion is to find ar­eas that the char­ac­ters take me into. They have to be places I haven't vis­ited be­fore. I won't re­peat my­self.

But the se­ries of so­ciopath char­ac­ters you played were in the same genre?

But you can't com­pare the so­ciopath in Ra­man Raghav 2.0 with the one in Mon­soon

Shootout. They were all dif­fer­ent, though dark char­ac­ters.

You men­tioned shooting with Tan­nishtha in Rome. How was that ex­pe­ri­ence?

Very, very lib­er­at­ing. I was in Rome and shooting at a stretch for the film with­out in­ter­rup­tions. That's how I want to shoot. One film at a time. There will be no over­lap­ping. I like to sur­ren­der my­self com­pletely to my char­ac­ter. You will never see me us­ing my phone on the sets. I keep away from all dis­trac­tions while shooting even if it means of­fend­ing some­one like you who feels I've changed.

Tan­nishtha is your sec­ond fe­male direc­tor in a row af­ter Nan­dita Das. Is it any dif­fer­ent shooting with a fe­male direc­tor? Now there is a third fe­male direc­tor De­bami­tra Haasan with whom I'm do­ing a light-hearted rom-com Moti­choor Chak

na­choor. It's no dif­fer­ent at all from shooting with male di­rec­tors. Once you are in front of the cam­era, the gen­der of the direc­tor be­comes ir­rel­e­vant. The in­struc­tions he or she gives is all that mat­ters.

You are be­ing praised like no other ac­tor in liv­ing mem­ory. Doesn't it make you vain?

I don't sit and think about the praise. I just move on from one role to an­other look­ing for new chal­lenges. I love look­ing for nu­ances in my char­ac­ters.

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