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.