From being just a prop and acting in supporting roles to being a lead actor and travelling to film festivals like Cannes, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui's story is quite an inspirational rags-to-riches tale.
In an interview Siddiqui said, “So many times I felt I was wasting my time because things were just not working out. But I couldn’t even go back. What would I do there? Spent all my life acting and I don’t know any other work. Also, I was afraid my friends would tease me. Arrey hero banne gaya tha, wapas laut aaya”
Christopher Reeve quoted, "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
The Bollywood actor has proven this statement to be true and personified how success can be achieved from never giving up.
Siddiqui lived in a small town of Budhana in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. He graduated from a university in Haridwar and started his career as a chemist at a petrochemical company in Baroda. Situations moved him to Delhi and here he worked as a watchman. In this process, he frequently visited theatres and plays and started to participate in them. He went on to join the National School of Drama (NSD) and graduated from it in 1996.
In an interview, Siddiqui expressed that becoming a Bollywood star was beyond the realm of his dreams. He shared, “When I came to Mumbai, nobody could have imagined a Bollywood hero who was just 5 foot 6 inches tall, dark complexioned, and looked the way I do. And I didn’t believe in magic. So, I didn’t really have a reason to be delusional about my prospects in Bollywood."
Having acquired a relevant degree, Siddiqui moved to Mumbai to try his luck in Bollywood as an actor. That time he didn’t have sufficient money to even pay the rent. He walked from studio to studio, set to set, all day, finding himself doing only petty roles or the ones where he was just a part of a crowd.
He made his film debut with Aamir Khan’s 'Sarfarosh' in 1999, where he played a terrorist. This was followed by small roles over the next few years and his poverty still continued during this period of time.
'Peepli Live' was a turning point for the versatile actor. He played the role of a journalist in the film after which he got real recognition for his work. Before that his major lead role was as a wedding singer in 'Patang', which made it to the Berlin International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival.
He even acted in television serials and a few short films but his big break was 'Black Friday' (2007) by Anurag Kashyap.
Siddiqui has not shied away from acting in masala potboilers too, and he is not at all uneasy about doing more. He said during an interview, “There’s nothing I won’t do. The thing is, when I was in NSD, we would do plays of every kind — in the Sanskrit language, with Parsi songs, dialogue deliveries which were long and required us to shout, William Shakespeare, Anton Chekov, realistic too. That’s an actor’s job, to do roles of every kind.”
This is why he doesn’t like any actor to be labelled according to the platform or medium they perform on the most, like say television or film actor.
Siddiqui adds, “Acting toh acting hoti hai, chaahe ped pe chadh ke karo, street pe nukkad natak ya stage pe, a good actor will be good everywhere. Baat acting ki karo, categorise karna theek nahi hai. Har style ka film ya theatre karna chahiye, enhancement hota hai. Yeh nahi ki particular ek hi cheez… that’s why I like acting. I get a chance to invent and discover with every film. What can be better than that?”
The award-winning actor has tried his skills at quite a lot of variety — be it playing a menacing antagonist in 'Kick', a tough inspector in 'Kahaani', or even biopics such as 'Manto' and 'Thackeray'.
The year 2012 was the turning point for him with films like 'Kahaani' and 'Gangs of Wasseypur' doing well at the box office and that was when the world got to identify the real potential of this wonderful actor. He didn’t look back after that.
Siddiqui went on to act in big banner movies like 'Talaash', 'Badlapur', 'Lunchbox', 'Kick', 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan', 'Raees', and also the Oscar-nominated 'Lion'.
On his birthday, Redchillies.vfx tweeted. “How you manage to portray all of the different characters with such ease is a mystery, but it leaves us spellbound every single time ! Wishing you a very happy birthday #NawazuddinSiddiqui. Have a fabulous year ahead! (sic)"
How you manage to portray all of the different characters with such ease is a mystery, but it leaves us spellbound every single time ! Wishing you a very happy birthday #NawazuddinSiddiqui. Have a fabulous year ahead!— redchillies.vfx (@vfx_redchillies) May 19, 2021
- #HappyBirthdayNawazuddinSiddiqui pic.twitter.com/tAmF5tEWdk