For the youngsters studying at National School of Drama (NSD) and dreaming of making it big in tinsel town, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a role model and living example of nothing being impossible if one strives hard. The actor, who struggled for years to get a shot at limelight but subsequently proved his mettle in Bollywood, returned to his alma mater recently to attend the ongoing Bharat Rang Mahotsav and interacted with students.
‘We used to sleep in yoga classes’
The first question came from his senior Shantanu Bose who asked him about how the acting bug bit him. The actor, who was first fascinated with acting after watching Ramlilas, started off on a lighter note. “Meri bolti band ho jaati hai NSD aake. I learnt a lot here and sorry, if I fumble today,” he said, which drew a round of whistles. He continued, “It was an interview of Naseeruddin Shah which made me realise that there is a different kind of acting also happening. And then someone told me about NSD and the teaching it imparts, I applied here and got through in my first attempt. What I learnt here is still helping me. Often when I feel I am reaching a saturation point in my performances, I think of coming back to NSD and attending workshops. Mujhe bahut daant padhti thi, especially from the Kathak teacher. Aur mujhe acting ke alawa, saare subjects boring lagte the. I also used to like Yoga classes kyunki wahan jaake so jaate the.”
He asmitted that he still finds public speaking a daunting task, to which Waman Kendre (Director, NSD) informed that an interactive session was organised when Nawaz was hesitant to give a lengthy speech on his life. “However, when I am on camera, I feel yeh fraction of time mera hai and I’m very confident because of my strong foundation,” he added.
‘I feared visiting NSD when I wasn’t getting big roles’
He said that there is nothing interesting to talk about his life before NSD and all the ‘fun’ poured in only after graduation. “I thought I will take Bollywood by storm but I hardly got through any auditions. Then I realised that people judging me are not qualified enough. I had a certain pride that I am from NSD and they have not learnt what I have learnt. I got no chance in TV as it was getting all glossy at that time. Then I started getting small roles in films and I didn’t visit NSD fearing people would say ‘Aa gaya ek scene karke.’ Thank God, then filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap came.”
Scenes inspired from life
During the course of the conversation, while others couldn’t stop raving about some of his most convincing scenes, Nawaz also shared instances when the scene in the film actually played out like a chapter from his life. He laughed, “Maine Gangs of Wasseypur 2 mein 700-800 goliyan chala ke apni bhadaas nikal li,” referring to his film as a lead actor, which came after a prolonged wait. And when someone asked him to mouth the famous ‘Baap ka, bhai ka badla’ dialogue, he called it not a dialogue but a reality of his life, once again referring to the tough side of his struggle.
He divulged that the ‘permission leni chahiye’ scene from Wasseypur was actually inspired from his real life. “When I was in second year, I asked a junior to go to a garden with me. We were sitting, and then I put my hand on her hand to which she asked me, ‘Kya kar rahe ho?’ and I said, ‘Haath pe haath rakha hai.’ To which she replied, ‘Yeh illegal hai’. Scared, I immediately started imagining myself in jail but then she said, “Mature ho tum, permission lo na pehle.’”
Nawaz’s gyaan on good looks and not looking for motivation
About the post-NSD struggle, he summarised saying, “I graduated from here two decades back. Toh andaza laga lo.” and recounted the incident how no fashion designer believed that he was going to Cannes, and refused to suit him.
However, he suggested to his juniors that frustration shouldn’t lead to depression. “Be ready when opportunity knocks. I wanted to stay fit and alert for that one chance, even if it took 25 years to come.” Answering questions about physique and good looks, Nawaz said, “Looks is a matter of perception. At Cannes, Europeans think I am good looking, while in India, I am not. As far as six-pack abs are concerned, chaar toh main bhi nikaal lunga.”
A girl then asked him if there was a special person in his life who motivated him through thick and thin, and the actor quipped, “Main bahut besharam insaan hoon, kisi ka motivation kyun mangu? Jo karna tha, khud karna tha. When you have expectations from others, you often get disappointed.”
‘I will return to theatre, someday’
“So, how do you manage to not show off?” asked a student, to which Nawaz said, “Bahut koshish karta hoon bheed mein kho jaane ki. Someday, you might find me sitting next to you in a bus. If throwing starry tantrums can improve my acting, I will do it. Par main bheed se alag nahi, bheed mein alag hona chahta hoon.”
He also opined that presently, audiences are looking forward to watching patriotic and emotional films and it’s not the right time for films like Haraamkhor, Raees and Raman Raghav.
The actor is presently working on Munna Michael and will soon be seen essaying the role of Saadat Hasan Manto in a biopic. He left his alma mater promising everyone that he will be back soon. Asked when he will return to theatre, he said, “I am tied up for the next three years. After that, I will certainly