Nawazuddin Siddiqui
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Nawazuddin: I don't want to be in any race

By HT

Mumbai, Dec. 23 -- In 2012, he made people sit up and take notice of his phenomenal performance in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW) series.

Four years later, Nawazuddin Siddiqui has emerged as one of the most respected actors in Bollywood. The 42-year-old has just been honoured with the best actor award at the prestigious Asia Pacific Screen Awards and the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (Australia) for his outing in Raman Raghav 2.0.

"I couldn't go for either of the award functions as I was shooting, but I am, of course, happy," says Nawazuddin, as he talks about his life and career.

How important is appreciation for any actor?

Of course, it's very important. But what makes you feel extremely good is that even though you aren't involved in any such thing [ensuring that films travel to award functions], and don't even know that your films have travelled there, you get awarded and honoured without any bias. It makes me feel that, as an actor, I am on the right track, especially when people appreciate your work universally.

You also complete four years since your breakthrough act in GoW. Has life changed since then?

Yes, naturally. Since, I'm busy with so many films now, my life has, of course, changed in that sense.

Are you satisfied with the direction your career has taken?

I am satisfied, because the industry understands the kind of roles I would like to do, and I am getting those kinds of roles. From the start, I was clear that I don't want to be in any race. My aim was to create and maintain my own identity, any which way. I never wanted to be another regular, run-of-the-mill actor. I was working honestly on doing exactly that. Now, people are giving my craft a lot of respect and also offering me the kind of work I want to do.

You have also said that you don't aim to become a star...

Be it an established actor or not, if he has it in mind that, 'I want to become a star', then it's the start of the corruption. My work finishes when I satisfy a director through my acting and satiate myself in whatever small way. That's it. Besides this, when one starts thinking about becoming a star, it shows that corruption has crept into an actor's thought process. It also shows that your focus isn't on your work, but somewhere else.

Do you ever feel pressurised since people have high expectations from you?

If I do my work keeping those things in mind, it will be very pressurising. I want to keep my instincts and habits - that have been there since my theatre days - safe even now. I want to work in the same manner that I would do in my theatre days. I used to be very passionate about the process. Sometimes, I am scared that if I start working keeping in mind such tags, then, somewhere, things will loosen up. I don't want to be pressurised by other things.

Have you become used to the media glare and the attention?

I still get very uncomfortable. I haven't given even a single interview in the past threefour months - and that was done purposely. I didn't want to because I didn't have anything to say. I don't even have a PR [agent] right now. I don't want to be in the papers every day. I wasn't happy about being in the news daily.

So, don't you like being in the limelight...

I don't want to. Somewhere, I start feeling guilty that if I keep doing that [being in the limelight], it will make me feel that I am running after other things. I feel, "I had come here to do other things." Other things that have been turned into necessities won't help me at all. I always fear that my passion for performance and the sharpness in my work will get lost somewhere if I run after those things. I am an actor, and if I focus on my role and work, it's good. That's my only passion.

How was the experience of working with Shah Rukh Khan?

People say that Shah Rukh is the richest superstar in the world, but there's also an actor in him. And I felt that. I won't name him, but I have worked with a very big actor and it was a horrible time for me, because he doesn't respond to your lines and emotions. He is generally lost in his own world. When I work with SRK or Salman, I feel that they give respect to my characters. And once that happens, you win half the battle there itself.

Sultana Daku will be an international production. But are international films on your mind?

It's not part of my plan as of now. As a creative person, I am very satisfied with the roles I am getting, regardless of whether I am able to do them or not. If you are feeling content about working on a foreign film, you should definitely do it. But if you are going there only for the status symbol, then it's not right as then aap bas dhons jamaana chahte ho (you just want to impress people). It's not a creative mind's work but something else.

Do you feel there is a lot of hype about Hollywood films in India?

Actors worked in international films earlier too, but as the media has become big, it gets talked about much more. But you should try to not become an object in a Hollywood film. If you do such a film, blow their minds. That's what talent is. What's the use of doing a big Hollywood film that makes money, but no one talks about your work?