These days, when you speak of top Indian actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui is one name that immediately comes to mind. The 42-year-old who literally shot to fame and nationwide recognition with Kahaani is now regarded in the same vein as the likes of Pankaj Kapoor, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Paresh Rawal, and Irrfan Khan. This is testament to the struggle of this wonderful actor whose biggest quality as a performer is the sheer variety that he brings into each and every role that he does.
How did the journey start?
Siddiqui was born on 19th May 1974 into a family of Numberdars, who were landlords by profession at Budhana, Muzaffarnagar, in Uttar Pradesh. He was oldest among eight children. After completing his graduation as a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya in Haridwar he started working as a chemist in Vadodara. He worked as a chemist for a year. Soon he left for Delhi in search of a new job. Here after watching a play he was instantly bitten by the acting bug. He also got admitted to National School of Drama by acting in a play that also featured 10 of his friends.
Siddiqui’s problems started after he moved to work in Mumbai following his graduation from NSD. 2004 was one of the worst years of his life as he was unable to pay rent and asked a senior from NSD to let him stay with him at his apartment in Goregaon. He was allowed to do so but had to cook the meals.
First few roles
Siddiqui’s career started with bit part roles. In 1999 he debuted in a small role in Sarfarosh that starred Amir Khan. He was in the opening scene of Munnabhai MBBS that featured Sanjay Dutt and late Sunil Dutt and also worked in Jungle directed by Ram Gopal Verma. He also frequented the studios and shoots but all he got was the same kind of roles. He also tried to get work in television serials but there was not much work for him. In 2003 he shared screen with Irrfan Khan in Bypass, a short film. In all these years, especially from 2002-2005, Siddiqui did not have much work to begin with and he lived in an apartment with four other people. He mostly earned his living from some acting workshops that he conducted from time to time.
This 2007 film provided Siddiqui the breakthrough that he had been looking for. In 2007-08 he appeared in his first lead role in a film – Patang, shot by Prashant Bhargava – where he played the role of Chakku, a wedding singer. The film was shown at Tribeca Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. Roger Ebert, the globally renowned film critic, awarded four stars to Siddiqui’s performance. It is also said that it is this role that basically changed the way he acted. The film was also released in the US and Canada where it was highly appreciated, especially by newspapers of the stature of Los Angeles Times and New York Times. He appeared again as a wedding singer Rangila in the film Dev D in 2009 and had a good role in New York, directed by Kabir Khan.
It was with this film that Siddiqui started to grab eyeballs. The film, released in 2010 and produced by Amir Khan, saw Siddiqui as a reporter. However, it was for his performance as the hot-tempered intelligence officer Khan in the 2012 film Kahaani that Siddiqui became famous in the actual sense of the word. He cemented his place in the Indian film firmament with his work in Gangs of Wasseypur, a two-part film of almost epic proportions directed by Anurag Kashyap. He also appeared as Sonu Duggal in Miss Lovely directed by Ashim Ahluwalia. The film’s premier was at Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and it was released in India during 2014. Regarding his performance in the film Siddiqui he stated that this has been his most authentic performance to date. For an actor of his calibre to have made such a comment speaks volumes about the quality of that particular role.
Other major films
Following his success of late, Siddiqui has also ventured into mainstream arthouse and commercial films with flicks such as Pan Singh Tomar, Kick, Talaash, Badlapur, Chittagong, Bombay Talkies, The Lunchbox, Bajrangi Bhaijan, Manjhi – The Mountain Man, Dekh Indian Circus, and the recently-released Te3n. Haramkhor, released in 2015, has also earned him the award of best actor at New York Indian Film Festival.
Raman Raghav 2.0
Once again directed by Anurag Kashyap, with whom Siddiqui has done his most prominent films, it is expected that Raman Raghav 2.0 will add a glorious feather in the already well-adorned cap of Siddiqui. The film sees Siddiqui in a role that has been inspired by Raman Raghav, a serial killer who tormented Mumbai in the late 1960s. The film has already released and one feels Siddiqui’s performance, which he has himself termed mentally draining, will be much lauded.
The following table depicts some major international awards won by Siddiqui:
|Film||Award category||Award ceremony||Year|
|Talaash: The Answer Lies Within||Asian Film Award for Best Supporting Actor||Asian Film Awards||2012|
|Dekh Indian Circus||Award for Best Actor||New York Indian Film Festival||2012|
|For his work in 2012||Breakthrough Talent||GQ Men of the Year Awards 2012||2012|
|Gangs of Wasseypur||Lions Favourite Actor||Lions Gold Awards||2012|
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