Nawazuddin Siddiqui is known for immersing himself into the character he plays. For his upcoming movie Manto too, the actor has transformed himself to get into the skin of the legendary poet who fearlessly spoke his mind.
Deccan Chronicle exclusively spoke to the actor about doing yet another film with female director Nandita Das and his upcoming film Thackeray. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
What was your first reaction when you heard that a movie is being made on the character of Manto?
She (Nandita) told me in 2013 that she wants to make a movie on Manto. We were at the Cannes red carpet at that time when she approached me. I had read about Manto so I was fascinated. She took 4 years to research on him and got a script and then we began.
Nandita Das herself has been a part of quite a few path-breaking movies like Fire and Earth to name a few, and she even made her directorial debut with Firaaq which also starred you. Was that the reason you thought you she would be the most suitable director to shoot such a film?
Absolutely! I feel that there is only Nandita in the whole wide world who can do justice to Manto. I say this because she was too passionate when speaking about Manto, and is capable, educated and has sensibilities to see things. Looking at that, I felt that if there’s anyone who can do Manto, it is Nandita.
Partition is a sensitive topic for both India and Pakistan even today. In Manto, an Indian writer starts living in Pakistan and publishing books which people find offensive. How difficult was it for you to get into the nuances of the character?
I can feel and imagine what he went through at that time. There’s no proof of anything because it was in that era. But Nandita did her research well. She even met Manto’s daughters to understand what their father was like. I spoke to them on call. That actually helped a lot to understand his situation, thoughts etc.
Apart from acting in the film, have you contributed in any other way like music or screenplay?
It is all Nandita’s thoughts. I’m so busy acting at the moment that I can’t even think of anything else. My expertise is nothing except acting.
After Manto, you will also be playing the iconic Bal Thackeray. Is there a reason behind playing such controversial characters?
When an actor does a character, he doesn’t see controversy but challenges. I figure if it can help me in expanding my thoughts and discovering myself. As actors we are selfish and just see how we should play a character. People can think everything else. If I find any other normal character also challenging, I will take that up too....