Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the perfect film for all the negativity around us
After being pitted against Salman Khan in Kick, Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the superstar’s aide in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. In a candid chat the versatile and talented actor talks about his forthcoming film and filmography so far.
Speculation is that your role in Bajrangi Bhaijaan is inspired by the neighboring country’s famous journalist, Chand Nawab. Is it true? And, what was it about the film that made you say yes to it?
My role is of a journalist who helps Salman Khan in his journey to take a little girl back to her home. So, it’s a regular reporter’s role. I have watched a lot of videos of TV reporters, even of Chand Nawab; I just picked the best things from all of them and clubbed it with the director’s vision for my character. Also, during one of the Lok Sabha elections I had reported for a news channel. I did that to push my acting abilities, because after a point you hit saturation. I covered eight to nine episodes for the channel.
I did Bajrangi Bhaijaan as it has strong content, is an emotional and positive story. There’s so much negativity around us that such a positive film, about bringing people together, is badly needed.
As an actor what is the one thing you definitely look at while signing a film?
A lot of people say script is important, it is, but for me the director is crucial. A good director can create magic out of a bad script and a bad director can make a mess of a good script.
From a struggler who would do any role to being one of the most sought-after actors by big banners and filmmakers, how does it feel? What is it that you now want in a role?
One has to struggle even today to find a good role. One doesn’t want to repeat roles, right? So, there are several reasons for turning down a script. Then, talent is a choice. It all depends on what you choose. So, one wants to have the power of choice.
At the trailer launch of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Salman Khan said that Kabir Khan took you to unseen and difficult to reach terrains. What was your experience with the shooting locations?
Physically it was taxing because we had to climb steep mountains, and the higher the altitude the thinner the air so a lot of us would face discomfort in breathing. In fact, I couldn’t even run. Then we were shooting in Sonmarg when the climate would change suddenly and become freezing cold. This is the first time I shot there.
The kind of acting performances seen in mainstream blockbuster movies and independent cinema are different. You beautifully slip into these two diverse spaces. Is there a process you follow while approaching films from respective zones?
As an actor you approach each film with the same intensity, in both kinds of films you are taking the director’s vision forward. Yes, but the kind of performances are different. For Kick my director told me that the character had to perform two notes higher than the regular level of realism. There are two kinds of theater – intimate theater where there are ten viewers and big theater that is watched by 1000 people. So, for such a large audience the performance level will be different. The gestures, postures and speeches are loud. I do what the director tells me to do.
Realistic as well as loud performances are equally difficult, nothing is easy. I was nervous even before the 40-second role in Sarfarosh and was nervous even before Bajrangi Bhaijaan. I feel confused every time I get a character and wonder if I will be able to deliver it.
You had said in an interview that acting isn’t just passion for you. Can you describe your love for acting?
Acting is a passion but also a process to discover a new me. Through my characters I try to find out who I am actually. During my theater training we were told that all the different kinds of emotions are within us. There is a good man, a bad man, a kid, a devil hidden deep inside everyone. One has to just find it. Till I did Gangs Of Wasseypur, I didn’t know that I had such a range of emotions in me. One has to have knowledge, training and practice to discover these hidden and unknown emotions within.
Has the undulating accolades and adulation for your performances translated into monetary appreciation?
The good thing about the (film) industry is that you don’t have to go ASK for money. If you have that kind of talent and abilities then you are able to get what you want. But I have never been so bothered about money. It’s not like I have to charge an ‘x’ amount only. If I know there’s a good film and role but the producers don’t have the budget, yet I will do it. I may not get the money but I will get other things.
It’s been over 16 years in the industry. Are you happy with what you have achieved?
You may think I am being modest, but the truth is I have not achieved so much yet. I don’t detach myself from my work; only when you do that can you see the success. As I said, I enjoy the process of acting and filmmaking. I like to go through the internal back and forth to become a particular character. And there’s no limit to achievement. In fact the deeper I get into and think about acting, the more insecure I feel. There are so many other things I want to do. I don’t gauge my improvement on the basis of films or its success. It depends on how many weaknesses of mine have I been able to conquer.
What after Bajrangi Bhaijaan?
There’s Mountain Man, directed by Ketan Mehta. It is based on a true story about a man who broke a mountain for 22 years as his wife slipped while climbing it. It is an ordinary man who has an extraordinary love story.