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Nawazuddin Siddiqui The 5 Brilliant Performances That You Missed




In  a career  spanning  22  years Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s brilliance has been acknowledged unambiguously  in  films like Gangs Of Wasseypur,  Manjhi The Mountain Man, Raman Raghav 2: 0, Manto, Thackeray and  The Lunchbox. What about the ones  you have missed?

1.     Dekh India   Circus:  It  began in 2011  during the year of fame via Wasseypur and Kahaani when Nawaz gave a stellar performance as an impoverished rural Rajasthani father struggling to find the money to send his two children to the circus in Mangesh Hadawale’s Dekh India  Circus. An absolutely delightful slice-of- life tale about an impoverished family in the deserts of Rajasthan that craves for a visit to the circus. While Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannistha Chattterjee are brilliant as the parents it is  their children played by Virendra Singh Rathod and Suhani Oza who take centrestage. With no acting experience behind them the two kids deliver utterly natural performance under the direction of Mangesh Hadawale.Undoubtedly Nawaz’s career’s best performance, it remains unreleased to this day.

2.     Patang :  The following year 2012 Nawaz played the lead in Prashant Bhargava’s internationally-acclaimed  Patang .In spite of winning laurels at several international film festivals  this  too was never released. Giving the film his maximum  rating of  4 stars legendary critic  Roger Ebert wrote, “This film is joyous, but more than that: It’s lovely in its construction. The director, Prashant Bhargava, born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, knows what his basic story line is, but reveals it subtly. The story in outline would be simple enough for a made-for-TV movie. But there is nothing simple about “Patang.” Nawaz  once told me  his two favourite performances are in Dekh Indian Circus and  Patang  .And then Liar’s Dice.

3.     Liar’s Dice : Long before her Malayali  masterpiece  Mothoon director  Geetu Mohandas’s Liar’s Dice a haunting road film directed by Geetu Mohandas won its leading Geetanjali Thapa the National award for  best actress. Nawaz  deserved a  National award  too.Such glorious acclaim did nothing to endear the  film to film distributors. Liar’s Dice  also remains  unreleased. It is  a lyrical  ‘moving’ story(Nawaz and  his  co-star are  mostly  travelling) of a woman with a little daughter accompanied  by a helpful man(Nawaz)travelling from the Indo-China   border  to Delhi to find her missing husband.  I wonder why Netflix or Amazon has not lapped  up this  lap-top classic!

4.     Monsoon Shootout:  This neglected  film  is a  curious case of a potentially routine cops-and-killer sanguinary saga given a certain fresh twist of ambivalence by writing skills that know their Dirty Harry as closely as they  know Ardh Satya.There  is a tadka of circumstantial ambiguity,a twist of fate, if you will,  whereby a rookie cop’s rookie-rookie si zindagi gets more unscheduled excitement  on  his  first assignment than he had bargained  for.A serial killer  is  on the prowl. It was a hammer in hand in Raman Raghav, It’s an axe  here. The slayings are staged stylishly in the slippery monsoon of Mumbai when it’s easy for the elusive to give the pursuant the slip.This is exactly what the narrative does on us. Like Nawaz’s  Shiva it repeatedly gives us the slip, leaving us with unanswered questions just when the  cop Adi(Vijay Verma, impressively callow and intense) corners  the killer at gunpoint. Repeatedly, and with incessant pounding at the plot’s epicenter,  the narrative takes on a what-if tangent creating a cat-and-mouse game of its own between the camera and the audience.It is  an  impressive performance, staged to seduce and  please  us, not always hitting bull’s eye but never losing sight of its target . There are energetic sexual encounters  involving a migrant sex worker(Sreejita De) that  convey the desperation of a city on the edge,and a populace on the prowl. Monsoon Shootout succeeds in gripping us by our collective jowls in spite of  a certain staleness in the plot, and a stiffness in the joints of the narrative . The  camera manned by Rajiv Ravi prowls  through Mumbai’s  crowded monsoonal mayhem with emphatic energy .

5.     Miss  Lovely: A not so lovely look at the squalid world of thw  sleazy horror film industry  in the 1980s.The film told the story of two brothers played with cheesy brilliance by the neglected Anil George and  Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Though swooping down on a sleazy world Ahluwalia’s film never fell prey to the malaise of murkiness. To put your creative feet in the mud without dirtying your vision is no small achievement. To aesthetically capture the scummy on screen in all their naked glory is not an easy task. Debutant director Ashim Ahluwalia has achieved a stirring and disturbing synthesis of a documentary-styled narrative on the not-defunct world of  horror-porn from the 1980s ,  and a conventional Hindi-film love triangle (two brothers, one girl, tension tension…..).  The storytelling is not just unique, it is also extremely disturbing. The characters do not follow the redemptive path from sleaze to atonement.  They remain till the end damned doomed and despicable in their greed to capture female flesh in lascivious close-ups. The lure of the leer is laid out with a brutal directness . The tale is trap for the compromised. But it’s not a morality tail.The camera space between the characters and the audience is next to non-existent in Ahluwalia’s narrative.And that’s the highest compliment one can pay the film’s cinematographer K U  Mohanan and co-editors Paresh Kamdar and Ahluwalia who have done their jobs so well, they seem non-existent in the  scheme of Ahluwalia’s scathing sting operation on human depravity and uncontrollable sexual appetites. There is an unevenness about the narration which perfectly matches the smoky seedy mood of the story. Barring Niharika Singh’s character which epitomizes beauty in the sleazy cesspool all the actors are captured in grotesque flabby close-ups. Niharika looks aloof and detached from the sleaze. She seems to be playing the title role. But then, deception is the name of grime.There is nothing pretty or lovely about Miss Lovely. Penetrating into the horrifically immoral world of  horror-porn films in the 1980s Ahluwalia expends no shame in exposing the characters the low-life money-spinners desperate to make a fast buck by shooting a fast f..k in hazy garish ligh Nawazuddin’s Sonu Duggal is a curiously untarnished soul trapped in a world of unmitigated debauchery. His romance with the wannabe starlet Pinky(Niharika Singh) comes to an expectantly sticky tragic end . The bitter rage with which Nawazuddin confronts the betrayal of his innocent love for the girl is more Shakespearean than you’d expect a film of this nature to be.The blend of Ramsay and Shakespeare, of the perversely potent and spiritually impotent  is unparalleled. Loath or love it. But you’ve never seen anything like Miss Lovely. It builds a world of vicious vices with the raw stock of gritty stark visuals and elemental emotions.


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