In Patang he is Chakko, a wedding band singer in Ahmedabad, who resents his wealthy relatives, holding them responsible for his father’s death. In Chittagong, he is Nirmal Sen an idealist freedom fighter who has a hard time expressing his love for a colleague.
|Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Dekh Indian Circus
In Dekh Indian Circus he is a poor villager, a mute man and father of two, who has to face his children’s disappointment when they realize he cannot take them on an outing to a circus. And in Gangs of Wasseypur he plays the younger son of a rural gangster who reflects the nervous energy of Freddie Corleone and also the aspiring confidence of Michael Corleone.
These are the four faces of Nawazuddin Siddiqui — the terrific actor of the indie Hindi cinema — that I have seen in the past two weeks.
Nawaz is in Cannes celebrating the world premieres of his two films — Gangs and Miss Lovely, a rare achievement for an actor unknown on the world stage. But we are also witnessing the summer of Nawaz in the US.
Patang and Dekh Indian Circus played the week before last at the Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival in Pittsburgh. And then I flew back from Pittsburgh to come home to the New York Indian Film Festival, where I saw three of Nawaz’s films — Chittagong, Gangs and also, one more time, Circus.
And if these diverse rich performances of Nawaz were not enough, on Thursday a set of wire image pictures from Cannes showed the Miss Lovely team — dressed up, posing under a cloudy sky. Along with the film’s director Ashim Ahluwalia, and his other cast, I saw the dashing Nawaz — far from the life of his village near Muzaffarnagar, UP, dressed in black suit, narrow tie and a crisp white shirt.
That is Nawaz, the 38-year-old graduate of Delhi’s National School of Drama who seems to be in practically every film I see lately. When I met him last month during his Patang promotion trip to New York (the film opens here on June 15) he said he had 10 films waiting to be released in India — including Reema Kagti’s Talaash.
What is the mark of a good actor? To answer that question, one has to look at a person like Nawaz. He is unassuming, a bit shy at first. He has none of the arrogance that one sometimes sees in big stars. But his eyes sparkle and his smile is infectious. He is gifted with a lot of charm and there is a certain energy in him that helps him transform into the diverse characters he plays on the screen.
In a field packed with Bollywood stars who rarely take risks and play anything other than the one-note characters the audience want them to be, Nawaz is a rare actor, a human chameleon. And that may be one reason why people often do not remember him from his supporting roles in many of his films.
This past week, as I would mention Nawaz’s name again and again to friends and strangers I met at the two festivals in Pittsburgh and New York, I would often be asked a question like this: “Remind me again, what films has he acted in?”
And so, I would start off by describing his character in Peepli Live, the earnest journalist who dies in the end, or in Kahaani, where he is the cocky CBI agent Khan, who struts around scaring the hell out of local cops in Kolkata. And then people would seem to remember him.
But I know things will change if most of his 10 films open in India this year. I know people will be blown away by his relative small role in Dekh Indian Circus, especially a playful seductive scene between him and actress Tannishtha Chatterjee, who plays his wife. And I know people will smile watching Nawaz try to express his love to Vega Tamotia’s Pritilata Waddedar in Chittagong, as Shankar Mahadevan sings Bolo Na in the background.
Soon it will be a festival of Nawaz in India as well!
• Enough adulation
Reading Aseem Chhabra’s column ‘Judging the Picture’ (PM, May 20), I came to realise that the author found it extremely difficult to be objective about Shah Rukh Khan’s behaviour at Wankhede Stadium. It is very evident that the author is a Shah Rukh fan, and he has made references to his and others’ interactions with the star. Even though he says that he did not wish to infer any ‘truth’ from the photos of the incident, one
cannot discount that King Khan’s behaviour has become somewhat erratic of late. i think one should leave some room for the actor being a human being who is dealing with some issues. He is not doing a very good job of it, and I think all the actor’s fans should allow for this, instead of blind adulation.
- Kirti Reddy
• Finally, an objective view
While the media, the shopkeeper and even my housemaid, went about town talking about Shah Rukh Khan’s bad behaviour at Wankhede Stadium, I was pleased to finally read a piece that was not hysterical and judgemental. Nobody knows exactly what set Khan off at Wankhede. It could have been something you or I would have also reacted to in a similar fashion. Whether or not the actor was drunk is also in question. We should simply calm down!
- Suresh Tilak