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‘We Don’t Reveal Our Real Selves’

Express News Service

It is impossible to put Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a box. Romance, action, drama, comedy—he has done it all. And now with his latest role as Laila in Heropanti 2, the actor has added eccentric cybercriminal to his eclectic repertoire. Sporting a mohawk and a funky blazer with way too many buttons on one side, Laila’s laugh has an eerie rhythm that mirrors one of cinema’s most iconic villains—the Joker.

“Two years ago, I wanted to do only romantic movies. Hence, I did romantic movies. That phase is now over. Now my mind keeps fluctuating. I feel like playing weird and absurd characters. I loved my role in Heropanti 2. I’ve always wanted to play such a role from my theater days,” the actor says.

The film that also stars Tiger Shroff and Tara Sutaria hit the cinemas late last month. Siddiqui started his career in Bollywood with bit roles in films like John Mathew Mathan’s Sarfarosh, Rajkumar Hirani’s Munnabhai MBBS, and Ram Gopal Varma’s Shool. His first big gig happened with Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani (2012), where he played the archetypal short-tempered but intelligent police officer, Khan.

He has since, in the last two decades, taken up numerous striking roles—conventional and unconventional—thereby creating a fanbase for himself. Some of his memorable films include Gangs of Wasseypur, The Lunchbox, Manjhi—The Mountain Man, Kick, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and Manto. He also headlined Anurag Kashyap’s Emmy-nominated crime thriller series Sacred Games with the character of Ganesh Gaitonde.

The 47-year-old actor wants to explore the different faces and personalities of the human mind. “Everyone has two images—one personal and the other public. We are all hypocrites. We don’t reveal our real images to people. If you observe people quietly and silently, each one tells a different story. They have insecurities. I want to work on such complex real-life characters,” he says.

A poster of Heropanti 2

Siddiqui’s film and character choices have evidently paid off, as the grandeur of his new home in the Mumbai suburbs attests. But the lavish lifestyle does little for the UP boy from Muzaffarnagar who is still there under all those layers of glitz and glamour.

“I never dream of building a big house for myself. When I shifted there, I was sleeping in a big room but could not sleep peacefully, so I moved my bed to a smaller room. I sleep well there. I realized that my status is such that I can stay in a small room,” he says, adding, “All the money and success have not changed me. I don’t think I will change as a person. I could have changed perhaps if I was younger, say 25 years ago. Now there is no such scope for me.”

After achieving success in the film biz, Siddiqui—whose stint in acting started in the auditorium of Delhi’s National School of Drama (NSD)—says he does not care for luxuries in life. “What is luxury? It is nothing but temptation and I was never drawn towards it. I tried out fads like wearing branded clothes and shoes, but usually ended up leaving the house wearing my brother’s shoes,” he laughs.

What the actor does care about, however, is finding and landing great, one-of-a-kind roles. And to crack the unpredictability of the business of cinema, he seems to have made himself equally unpredictable, which keeps him from being insecure as an artiste.

“I am a very secure actor and that’s because I am getting such good roles. When I passed out from NSD, I had dream that I would do small but important roles even if they are on TV. And here I am, getting to play wonderful roles in films—Manto, Bal Thackeray. My acting in Serious Men is getting recognized at prestigious film festivals. What more can I ask for?” he asks, adding, “I become insecure only in front of child actors. Whenever they perform on screen, they bring out real emotions. They have no dual personalities. They are the same off-screen and on-screen. They always speak the truth.”

Siddiqui is currently working on an offbeat film exclusively for the “festival circuit”, and began writing the script himself. “It is based on the life experiences of various actors I met during my theater days. But I don’t think it will be appreciated commercially, so I will be releasing it at film festivals. I will be playing the pivotal character, but I am still looking for a director. After three months I got writer’s block, so now I have hired a writer to do the job,” the actor admits.

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