Unlike current Hindi film stars, he does not hanker for roles in Hollywood films, though he is an acting powerhouse. He morphs from gangster Ganesh Gaitonde in Sacred Games with the same ease as he plays the funny reporter Chand Nawab in Bajrangi Bhaijan. Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was in Singapore to receive the Lesley Ho Asian Film Talent Award at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), which celebrates an individual from the Asian filmmaking community. India Se Media met the talented actor during the visit. Here are excerpts and video of that conversation.
India Se: How do you feel about winning the Leslie Ho Award at the SGIFF?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Of course, it is a great prestigious award. I am fortunate that I am getting this award.
India Se: What are the movies that stood out for you this year?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I can’t choose, but Motichoor Chaknachoor, a comedy film that was just released recently and Sacred Games 2, of course.
India Se: How did the OTT platforms help you expand your acting?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: This is a global platform for us and whatever we did in this series stood out. Mujeh to bahut kushi hui (I am very happy) that there are so avenues now.
India Se: But Sacred Games 2 did not receive the same response as the first. Were you disappointed?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: No, not at all. As an actor, I am very happy because in the second season my character was so layered and complex. Success, hamasha repeat nahi ho sakta. But I am happy because you do not get such complex roles. If the public is disappointed they have their own reasons.
India Se: You played Manto, how was that experience? Which is your favourite short story written by him?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I’m glad you brought up Manto. (I like) Manto ki Kali Shalwar and the stories featured in the movie. Manto, as you said, is my favourite character. I connected and felt for the character.
India Se: Do you think Manto’s thoughts are relevant today?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Yes his thoughts are relevant today as he spoke the truth, and truth kabi purana nehi hota (Truth can never get old). Manto was a mirror of society.
India Se: You have always done characters that belong to the underbelly of a city or a town. Where do you get your inspiration?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I always try to do something different, sometimes I am successful and sometimes not. I have seen a lot of people in my life and I have some stock in my mind. I see these roles as an opportunity to use these characters.
India Se: Are you getting offers from Hollywood?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I am very happy that I am doing my kind of role in my country. I don’t think I need to go to Hollywood to do my kind of roles. Ek actor ko ya sab nehi karna chahi (An actor should not do such things). But when an actor gets appreciation overseas for the roles he is doing at home then that is what an actor desires.
India Se: So you have not signed any Hollywood offers?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Why should I sign, why should I be worried.
India Se: That is the trend now in Bollywood?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I am always against the trend.
India Se: Are there any roles that you would like to do?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Wok kehta hai ‘hazaro khwaizh aise ki har khwaish me dum nikle’ but I don’t have any dream role, whatever character I get, I do with full honesty.
India Se: Is this your first visit to Singapore? Would you act in a movie made here?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: No this is not my first trip, I have come here before. This time I am here for the SGIFF. I will certainly like to work in a movie made here.