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An Interview With Nawazuddin Siddiqui



Nawazuddin Siddiqui 

Nawazuddin Siddiqui  has been  away from Mumbai in his hometown Budhana in Uttarakhand to  spend  time with family  and to practice farming  far away from the madding crowd.He speaks  to Subhash K Jha

You have  been promoting your   new Netflix film Raat Akeli Hai from Budhana. Does it feel strange to not be physically  present  everywhere to  promote your film?

It does  film different. But we are  going through some really difficult times. Not just  a few of us, but the whole world is suffering.  Given  the circumstances  it would be extremely petty  of me to crib about not being able to promote  my films as I used to.

Do you miss  promoting your film  in person?

 I must say  virtual promotion   has its advantages. Think of the  lavish amounts that were spent in travelling and promotion  by the cast and crew of an on-release  film. Not to mention the physical exhaustion  of  going from city to city to  promote a  film.All done away with! 

But are there advantages  to virtual  promotion?

 I  don’t have to  dress up to do my interviews on  Skype or Zoom. I can be in casuals  .All I have to do  is put on a shirt  go live as only my upper torso is visible   to the world.

In Raat Akeli Hai  it is  good to see you  in a positive role  of a cop, as you  usually play dark characters  of gangsters  and  sociopaths?

Not true.  I  have played  quite a lot  of  positive  characters  in Manto,  Ghoomketu, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, etc. It is just that my dark portrayals have left a  deeper impact. In  Raat Akeli Hai   I am cast as a cop who has his own complexes that he’s wrestling with. I  enjoyed playing this  character  because it had a graph. My character Jatil Yadav discovers  the  pitfalls  of patriarchy while investigating a murder.

Nawaz, you   posted multiple tweets about  every co-star  of yours  in Raat Akeli Hai,praising each one. Such generosity is unknown in the Indian film industry?

I  feel  we  as actors tend to appreciate  only our own space. During Raat Akeli Hai I felt each  co-star  had something to  give , a quality that was unique to him or her. I learnt something different from each. There  is so much to learn  from every actor. During the lockdown I’ve been  watching  films from all over the world. Every  film, every performance has something to teach me. There  are so many different platforms for acting from the  stage to streetplays  to  cinema.

Do  you   prefer theatre to cinema?

No! I prefer the cinematic  medium. In theatre an actor has to live every  emotion for every  member of the audience at  the same time whereas  in cinema  there’s a lot more flexibility. The camera  allows  an actor to  fine-tune  the emotions.

What are  the projects  you return to once you resume shooting?

There’s my brother Shamas’ film Bole Chudiyan . Only three days’ work remains. On the other hand my friend Kushan Nandy’s  film we had done just three days’ shooting when the lockdown happened. Before these I  have  Sudhir  Mishra’s  film  A  Serious  Man.  It is based  on  the well-known novel by  Manu Joseph. 

How was it working with Sudhir Mishra?

I got to work with Sudhir Sir for the  first time. As a student  of cinema I used  to hero-worship  his films  Iss Raat  Ki Subah Nahin and  Hazaron Khawishein Aisi. I wonder  why it took so long for Sudhir Sir and me to come together. I feel this was  a combination meant to happen.

Have  your signed any new  projects?

I am   listening  to a lot  of  scripts via  video-conferencing. I like  a few of the subjects. I will take  a  decision soon. Right now I am at home away from the rush  of  Mumbai.I have no immediate  plans of returning to Mumbai.

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