BTwice before, the versatile Nawazuddin Siddiqui has played real-life characters for the same production company Viacom 18 Motion Pictures. Both the times, as Dashrath Manjhi in Mountain Man and Sadddat Haasan Manto in Manto, Nawazuddin has bombed badly.
And not because he was anything short of brilliant both the times. It is just that Nawaz doesn’t work as a solo hero at the boxoffice. This awareness of numbers failure is giving Viacom sleepless night.
As the day of Thackeray’s release approaches the question on the minds of all concerned is, would Nawaz be able to pull off a real-life character this time, and that too one who was so dynamic and larger-than-life?
A source close to the project says, “It’s a tough one, We’re aware that Nawaz for all his brilliance doesn’t work as a solo hero.So what do we do? There’s little that can be done except to hope that the audience would be looking at and embracing the film for Balasaheb(Thackeray) and not brood over who’s playing him.”
The source says the film’s financial and creative helmers the Shiv Sena wanted a big star for the role. But they couldn’t get the Khan or even the Kumar or Kapoor to play the role.
“Nawaz was a compromise option,” says the source. “We hoped that the audience would come to know about Balasaheb’s life and oratory.”
Viacom 18 is not looking at box office numbers this time.
“They took on the project for the Shiv Sena’s sake. Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena has taken all the decisions regarding the film’s marketing and release. Viacom is dutifully obeying Raut’s command.”