Best known for essaying poles apart roles – ranging from playing a gun-toting gangster Faizal Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur to a hilariously funny journalist in Bajrangi Bhaijaan Nawazuddin Siddiqui thinks it is the ‘Bollywood hero’ who becomes stereotypical with time, but the actors do not.
In an interview with IANS, one of the most versatile performers of present-day Bollywood talked about the evolution of Indian films, lack of audience in theatres as well as his methods and aspirations as an actor.
“I think only the heroes can become stereotypical, not actors. It is the concept of the hero in our films that you and I have been seeing for the last 60 years. The Bollywood hero who sings and dances with a heroine by his side, fights but still manages to look good after a beating– has become a stereotype. An actor can never become a typecast,” said Siddiqui, who was in the city to attend the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet.
“I think it’s important for an actor to try out characters with different dimensions. I’ve done intense films but I have also done films like Freaky Ali and Lunchbox which were pretty light-hearted.”
The actor, who would be seen playing the enigmatic author Saadat Hasan Manto in his next film, believes Bollywood has not evolved much in making thought-provoking cinema.
“It is not that parallel or content based films are a new thing in the industry. I don’t think much has changed here. Even earlier, there were great films made by directors like Tapan Sinha and Gautam Ghose. I do not find any massive improvement in terms of filmmaking in Bollywood. I think we still have a long way to go.”
“Cinema is an art seen by thousands of people. It is not just for a niche audience. So films should have such a quality that it can be enjoyed by everyone. It should be all-encompassing,” Siddiqui said, terming films as “art for all”.
“We cannot blame the audience for not coming to the theatres. The makers should also think about the audience. In some cases, the filmmakers themselves do not see their films twice. How can they expect the audience to come and see it?” he questioned.
He also criticised the idea of categorizing films as commercial or parallel.
“It’s only in India that the films are assorted into different categories like parallel cinema or commercial cinema. I think, in reality, films can be of only two types– it is either a good film or a bad film. If it’s a good film, it is appreciated by everyone, be it the intellectuals or the working class.”
Siddiqui, who has played challenging roles like that of a serial killer in Raman Raghav 2.0 and is set to play Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, dreams of playing characters like Leonardo DiCaprio’s in 2013 Hollywood flick ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and Dilip Kumar’s portrayal of Salim in the iconic historical drama Mughal-e-Azam (1960).
The actor also revealed his mode of preparation and claimed all his roles, whether big or small, makes him equally motivated and nervous.
“I prepare for the films according to the characters I am playing. Actually, you cannot start preparing for all the characters in the same way. The characters themselves would demand certain kind of preparations. Also, the director’s feedback is really important.”
“I cannot choose any of my roles as more challenging or close to my heart than the others. Even if it is a one-minute role, I get nervous before playing that, thinking whether or not I’d be able to do justice to the character.”
The actor from Budhana in Uttar Pradesh, who initially struggled to get a break in films for not being ‘hero-like’, said he would be happy if his success story inspires upcoming actors from moderate backgrounds and average looks to make it to Bollywood.
“I cannot claim it would be easier for new kids to get work in films because of what I have achieved. But certainly, it should impart a certain amount of confidence among the average looking actors that if someone with the looks of Nawaz can thrive in the industry, so can we.”