Nawazuddin Siddiqui finds his match in Motichoor Chaknachoor

Michael Gomes
Filed on November 12, 2019

Looking at Nawazuddin Siddiqui's body of work,  one can clearly see that his remarkable rise to fame in Bollywood has been through his intense portrayals. However, in his latest film, Motichoor Chaknachoor, he dons a different hat. He will be seen in a hilarious role, but is he comfortable doing comedies? "I have worked in nearly 150 stage comedies and tackled every style of comedy, so it was easy for me work in Motichoor Chaknachoor," said the actor, who is being paired with Athiya Shetty for the first time.

The rom-com revolves around a man employed in Dubai. He has returned to India and is desperate to tie the knot as he feels he is getting older. Athiya Shetty plays a girl determined to get hooked to an NRI at any cost. With Nawazddin in the lead, it is a given that you can expect a brilliant performance from him. Moreover, the movie has a Dubai connect. City Times caught up with Nawazuddin, ahead of the movie's release in the UAE on Friday, November15. Excerpts from the interview.

How was it working with Athiya, who is relatively fresh in the industry?
It was a good experience. I won't agree that she's a fresher because she has worked in a few movies before, so she's had some acting experience. What I liked about her was how she had prepped for the role two months ahead of the filming.  Besides studying her character, she also learnt the dialect and accent of Bundelkhand (a town straddling Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), where the movie is set. She also studied the mannerisms of the natives of the place. It was easy for me to perform opposite a well prepared actor. If someone does good work, then you are automatically inspired to come up with your best.

You are famous for playing intense characters, how was it switching to comedy?
I have worked in nearly 150 stage comedies and tackled every style of comedy, including the work of French writer Molière (one of the greatest comedy writers). Then, I've done folk theater where the styles are different. There are thousands of comedy forms. For example, in Maharashtra itself there are 30 types of folk comedy and I have explored them all. I am comfortable doing comedy as well as tragedy.  

You have done quite a few biopics, what makes you a natural choice for such films?
I don't consciously seek such roles, it's the filmmakers who find me suitable for such roles.

How has the journey been so far, do you ever feel like going back to theatre?
To be honest, right now I can't think of theater because I am too busy doing films, and I am enjoying it. When you are enjoying something, then you're going through a good phase and don't want to stop it. That happens to be the case with me. Perhaps in the future, when I feel I have reached a saturation point, I may do theater, but at the moment, I am not thinking of doing anything like that.

Your character Ganesh Gaitonde in Netflix's Secret Games uses excessive profanity. Is it difficult to mouth such dialogues?
For me, it's not about the language, it's all about the character I'm playing. I have to be true to my role and if Gaitonde's part is required to use bad language, so be it. At the same time, before Sacred Games, I did Manto. My character was required to speak in chaste Urdu, he has not used any foul language, not a single word.

Were you happy to know that celebrated author Paulo Coelho praised your work in
Sacred Games and also recommended it to his social media followers?
Of course, I was very happy. It's a honour that such a great writer liked my work. I have read his books and this recognition by him is my biggest award to date.
What kind of preparation goes into making your characters appear so real?
It all depends on who I'm playing. Some characters have complex layers and require me to do research. I explore the character's inner world and use method acting techniques to make my characters real and believeable. But in Motichoor Chaknachoor, I could not employ those techniques. I had to approach it differently. It was a fun role and I had to depend on spontaneity to bring out the nuances in the character.

What do awards mean to you?
If it is genuine then of course it's important because it motivates you to work better and makes you more disciplined. But this does not mean that you should work only to win awards or take up movies that are sure to become box-office hits. If I do that, then I'll get corrupted as an actor.

There is a blurred line between art and mainstream cinema these days, what according to you could be the reason for this ?
Art cinema is a genre on its own and there is no need to compromise it, but yes mainstream movies do incorporate elements of art cinema but we dilute it with the usage of songs and other commercial aspects. If I can tell your story in two or two-and-a-half hours and make it interesting in such a short time then that is also art. The bonding of these two genres is more prevalent in Bollywood and I think it's wrong.

Is there any dream role that you have to yet accomplish?
None really. But I must say that I'm intrigued and would love to play characters with grey shades like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street or Michael Keaton in Birdman. I wish someone would adapt such characters for Hindi cinema, but I don't think our audience is prepared to accept such films yet.  

Do you ever revisit your past?
Yes, of course. I have always been connected with friends from my theater days. I spend a lot of time with them. I have not made any friends here (Mumbai) though, neither do I make any effort to do so.

Any dream role that you're seeking?
Frankly, there's no such thing as a dream role for me. I am not choosy. But, yes, as I mentioned before, I would be interested in playing a character, like Birdman, because having worked in theater, I can relate to the protagonist. It's a dream for any actor to play a character like that.

Do you have any message for your fans in Dubai?
The audience in Dubai have always given me their love whenever I came to promote my movies there. I hope, as always, they will show me their love and turn up to watch Motichoor Chaknachoor in the theatres. It's a fun film for the whole family and people will surely enjoy it.


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