At half past nine, he has wrapped up yet another day in front of the camera. As Siddique prepares to share about his latest film, he warns about losing connectivity in between. He has just started travelling back home from the location of his new film Ishakinte Ithihasam. “I play the central character in it,” he says; a part that he has not played in a long time.
Malayalis have been watching him on screen for the past 33 years. What still baffles them about this man is how he manages to do what he does — become a completely different person each time. It wouldn't be too wrong to call him the master of disguise of Malayalam cinema. The proof of which can be seen in his latest release Captain, a biopic on late footballer V.P. Sathyan. Siddique plays the character named ‘Maithanam’, an unkempt man with dishevelled hair. “Maithanam is a man who is in love with football. He makes it a point to be present at every football match. This character is not modelled after any single person, but a lot of them who are madly in love with football.” But Siddique himself is quite far away from this character. “I don’t like football.”
“In fact, I’ve never had an inclination towards any sport. Even cricket,” he chuckles.
This year has begun on a good note for the actor. He has given some unforgettable performances, be it the quadriplegic ex-biker Jithendran from Diwanjimoola Grand Prix or Mohan Varma from Aadhi.
But it is the miser Dominic Aldo Rodriguez from the hit movie Hey Jude that is everyone’s new favourite. “I joined the sets of Hey Jude just a few days before the shoot actually began. The role was written for someone else. I was called in after things didn’t work out with the other actor. Shayma Prasad had already planned what Dominic should be like. According to Shyam, Dominic was a very rude person. I suggested we could make him stingy, strict and funny in his own way. And Shyam was ok with it.”
So does he put himself through a rigorous research session before plunging into a character? “No, I actually do not get into any kind of research for a character,” he says humbly. “We are already given a detailed description about it. On the sets, the make-up and the costume is given to us. And so the character takes shape one step at a time. Finally, I just get into the groove.”
All this does not make it any less challenging says the actor. “It is challenging no matter which character it is. This not something I do based on any course that I have done or any other criteria. All that I can do is pray that whatever decision I take, it turns out to be good. Though each of the characters I have performed on screen are different, the person performing it is the same. How can we differentiate? There is a limit to the changes I can bring about in my appearance or my voice. The point to be kept in mind is that the audience should not feel that they have been seeing the same person every time and for the same reason it is a huge challenge to successfully pull off any character on screen. In fact, I handle each of my characters with fear.”
Although Wikipedia says Siddique has done over 250 films, he personally has forgotten to keep a count of them. “People do ask me sometimes about the number of movies that I have done so far. I actually don’t have a clear number in my mind. Now this question is something that requires me to look back at my life and I do not like it. Why simply look back when you have such a wonderful path ahead of you? I always look forward to the movies and the characters that are going to come my way in the future.”
So does he ever think about retiring from cinema? He laughs, “That is something I never think about. I don’t think acting has an age limit. My wish is to keep going until I am physically or mentally unable to pull this off anymore. Acting is the only thing I know. For me the very prospect of waking up the next day to reach the location is exciting. It is never ‘Oh no, there is shoot the next day’. I always say it with excitement ‘I have a shoot tomorrow!’...