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'After Bigg Boss, I was offered stereotypical gay roles'

July 12, 2013 16:38 IST

Imam Siddique: I'm not hysterical 24/7


Rajul Hegde in Mumbai

After hogging maximum attention with his wacky antics in Bigg Boss 6, Imam Siddique is back with an entire show based on himself called MTV Timeout with Imam -- Ek Insaan Kai Pechaan.

The 13-week-long series will take you through his daily life, his many moods and moves.

All of which is focused on accomplishing that one goal in Imam’s life -- to make it big in Bollywood.

His weapon for success is his entourage -- a hot-shot manager, a well-connected sexy publicist, a bright helpful assistant and a young enthusiastic intern.

Timeout will go on air on July 14.

We present excerpts of an interview with the man who says he wants to be “the best brand ambassador that Bollywood has ever had in its history.”

What is MTV Timeout with Imam all about?

It’s a comedy reality show, experimenting with a new genre. 
The show is about me, my eccentricities, my idiosyncrasies, my unreal aspirations and ambitions.
You'll get all the ingredients needed for a good masala show.

Image: Imam Siddique


'The Bigg Boss house is an unnatural place'

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People, who had seen you earlier and then in Bigg Boss, could not reconcile the two.

I will explain why. I am not hysterical 24/7.

You have to understand and empathise with the fact that the Bigg Boss house is an unnatural place.
Yes, it’s a reality show and confined to a space and people from diverse socio economic backgrounds may or may not get along together as a collective.

I chose to take the path of love and respect. I like to treat all people with the same dignity, like the way I treat myself. It’s a shame that it wasn’t reciprocated.

Am I disappointed? NO.

Because it allowed me the luxury of being myself. I wasn’t pretending to be somebody that I am not. That is something dull, predictable and boring. For me, every moment is a celebration.

How has life changed post Bigg Boss?

It has changed for the better. I think a wise man or woman will always make more opportunities with what s/he finds.

When I got out of the Bigg Boss house, I was approached to play a stereotypical gay character in Bollywood. That wasn’t challenging for me as an actor.

I was looking for something more interesting and dynamic so I approached MTV. I said what is happening in my life is very interesting.

After Bigg Boss, I put my email address and cell number on social media. I was a cultural misfit when I was cast in Bigg Boss. But I am the eternal optimist and opportunist who grabbed the opportunity and juiced the success and laughed all the way to the bank as you can see.

Image: Imam Siddique

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'I got Rs 5 lakh for manoranjan and an additional Rs 10 lakh for more entertainment'

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Go on.

I have to sacrifice public transport like rickshaws and taxis. But everywhere I go and meet people, the level of affection, words of encouragement and support has increased. For that, I shall remain eternally grateful.

When I went to the Bigg Boss house, I estimated the kind of value it would add to my career. I got Rs 5 lakh for manoranjan and an additional Rs 10 lakh for more entertainment.

I think it’s so magnificent and wonderful that I have this opportunity. I have never celebrated my life more than I am celebrating it now.

What did you do after Bigg Boss?

I am a motivational speaker. I was invited by colleges to interact with students and toured all over the country.

I attended shows at fashion weeks in Delhi and Mumbai. I went back to Rajasthan on international women’s day and shared with the women of that region what I feel about social responsibility and the impact a project I have in mind will have on their lives.

Image: Imam Siddique

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'It takes nothing but honesty, truth and sincerity to bring out the best in me'

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Did you propose the title Timeout with Imam since you used the term several times in the Bigg Boss house?

Indeed. The makers said that they liked my suggestion and may go with ‘time out’.

Initially, I got all my takia-kalams (catch-phrases) trade marked.

I am also planning to get a franchise in a big way because I want people to buy affordable clothing which is quality driven. If someone in America loves me, wants to be part of my life, or engages with me they will start wearing t-shirts and he is doing time out (smiles).

What does it take to bring out the best and worst in you on the show?

It really takes nothing but honesty, truth and sincerity to bring out the best in me.

For the worst, exactly the opposite. If you try and give me attitude, darling, the south Mumbai b**** that I am, I will make sure that I take you to the dry cleaners and leave you there forever (smiles).It really takes nothing but honesty, truth and sincerity to bring out the best in me

Image: Imam Siddique

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'Bollywood stars don't have the courage and confidence to experiment'

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Some of your friends will also be on the show?

I would have had my mentor Protima Bedi, dear friend Persis Khambatta and Parveen Babi, a very close friend, if they were alive. It’s a shame that they are not. That is why I am mentioning them here. I have been blessed and mentored by them.

You will see people who have broguth positive changes in my life and my mentors Dolly Thakore and Prahlad Kakkar on the show. You may also get to see some Bollywood celebrities.

It’s the first time people will get to see my apartment, my pink Ambassador car in which we will go around the city.

You are fashion conscious. Is there any celebrity who you think needs a makeover?

I am not as fashion conscious as I am style-driven because I believe that fashion is frivolous and style is eternal.

Having said that, I am convinced that Bollywood celebrities, no matter what they wear, don’t look different and they don’t have the courage or confidence to experiment.

Whatever Aamir Khan did for Ghajini, he still looks like Aamir.

I would like them to get under the skin of the character, juice it, and express themselves as artists, which is not being done in Bollywood and it’s a shame.

International stars won’t wear a branded tee shirt unless they are being paid. What is wrong with our Bollywood celebs? Why are they endorsing international brands without getting paid for it? A lot of money can be made with endorsements.

Image: Imam Siddique

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'Thanks to Johnny Lever, comedy has now become mainstream'

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Please continue.

 I am looking at that in a very big way.

I want to endorse meaningful stuff. There are three products that I hope that I never have to engage with. One is tobacco; although I am a smoker, I don’t want to advocate smoking.

Second, I don’t want to touch alcohol because I am a reformed alcoholic. And third is I don’t want to get into the area of lingerie and contraceptives although it’s a responsible thing.

I want ‘brand Imam’ to be impeccable. I hope that you endorse me as a style icon. I want to be the best brand ambassador that Bollywood has ever had in its history.

Who do you think is the best entertainer in the industry?

Johnny Lever. He is a huge star and I don’t think he has been given the opportunity that he deserves as an actor. If I get an opportunity to direct him I will. That man has so many degrees of entertainment in every part of his DNA. It’s a shame that he has been just cast as Johnny Lever.

I will cast him as main lead in the film. I believe that he is an entertainer par excellence and I would like to watch him 24/7 no matter what he is doing.

Thanks to Johnny Lever comedy has now become mainstream; people sit and watch comedy shows like Comedy Circus etc.

Johnny Lever, if you are reading this, you are my biggest star and I love you forever. If we get a chance to work together, we will create history again.

Image: Imam Siddique

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