'I am a very confused and boring person in real life. I can't make quick decisions.'
'If I am in the company of someone, especially a female, then that person would run away from me due to boredom.'
Getting inside Nawazuddin Siddiqui's skin.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui has taken up a terrifying role in Raman Raghav 2.0, where he plays the title role of a serial killer. And he's so good in it (the trailer would vouch for that) that he has frightened even himself! Directed by Anurag Kashyap, the film will release on June 24.
Siddiqui, who has worked in an assortment of roles in films like Badlapur, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Talaash, tells us how he works on his characters, and movies. Patcy N / Rediff.com listens in.
You are brilliant even in films where your roles are small.
I had a 40-second role in Sarfarosh. Later, I did a small role in Munnabhai MBBS. I also did Shool...
It is very difficult to do roles like this because if I go into my comfort zone, all my characters will start looking alike. It is a constant struggle to do a role differently from my previous roles, without taking help of the get-up/ make-up. I don't want the characters to match even mentally.
But I don't know how different it turns out to be or whether I succeed.
What kind of roles are you offered?
I am fortunate that I am offered all kinds of roles. I play a hero in Sohail Khan's upcoming movie. In Ritesh Batra's film, I play a romantic hero.
I wouldn't like to play the hero throughout the 60 years of my career just because I am offered those roles. We are going through such a good phase in cinema that one can experiment with all kinds of roles. And if I am getting such a chance to experiment, I should take maximum advantage of it.
I try, based on my experience -- I have more that 12-15 years of experience. I practised my craft even when I had no work.
I don't want to play a hero all my life, just singing, dancing and romancing.
I can do a Raman Raghav, and I can also do a Te3N, where the character is very cool and calm, cut to cut, and doesn't have much emotion.
My favourite character is from Te3N, because I was experimenting with less emotion and less acting. It was a matter-of-fact kind of a role.
All your roles have a fun element. Have you ever thought of doing a comedy?
I have done about 150-odd plays and all of them were comedies.
The characters that I play in movies also have an undercurrent of humour. I don't believe in the current trend of comedies. It's all farce and very easy for me to do. The punch lines are written for you and you improvise a little.
But when you play a normal character and add an undercurrent of comedy to it, it becomes more interesting.
The comedy in cinema depends a lot on editing -- suppose I say something to you, the timing of your reply is adjusted at the editing table.
So I think in cinema, the actor doesn't give you comedy, the editor gives it to you.
Will you do a Housefull kind of comedy?
For experimenting, of course I would do it. As an actor, I should try all genres.
Like I did Kick deliberately. I wanted to test myself and see how much I could play to the gallery.
How humorous are you in real life?
I am a very confused and boring person in real life. I can't make quick decisions.
If I am in the company of someone, especially a female, then that person would run away from me due to boredom (laughs). Recently, one of my heroines did run away.
How did you prepare for the role of a serial killer in Raman Raghav 2.0?
I took the script of Raman Raghav 2.0 to Lonavala (a hill station near Mumbai) and stayed in a cottage situated in a forest-like area. I practised there.
I always play the background score when I am practising my scene. The music helps me perform better.
The third day when I was practicing in the evening, I started getting scared myself. So I stopped everything. But I had got a grip on the character.
When you practice often, you realise the character from within.
How long does the character you have portrayed stay with you? Do you leave the character behind on the sets or take him home with you?
I always leave my character behind on the sets because if I take him home, my wife and kids will be hassled (laughs).
So as soon as the shoot is over, I run away to my village because no one gives me any attention there (laughs). They are all farmers and don't treat me like a film star.
I have to dig in the fields like them. They can dig all day long; I get tired after just two or three attempts and that reminds me of my stamina and keeps me grounded.
You had dengue during the shooting of the film. Was it difficult to get back to work after the illness?
It was very challenging because the character of Raman had a different philosophy and his world was different.
He enjoyed committing a murder and had his own justification for doing so. And his justification is not allowed in a social society.
I, being a social human, couldn't believe in his theory. So that was a big struggle because I didn't believe in his theory.
The role becomes easier to perform when you believe in the character's world, his beliefs or thoughts. While I am performing, I have to believe in Raman and his justification.
You have worked with the Khans (Aamir Khan in Sarfarosh and Talaash, Salman Khan in Kick and Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Shah Rukh Khan in Raees) as well as Amithabh Bachchan (in Te3n). Did you learn anything from them?
I learnt from the Khans that to sustain a career for such a long time is a big thing. It is admirable to see that when they work on the sets, they are very humble.
When they are at their karma bhoomi (place of work), they work like any other actor. They never show off that they are superstars. That's a great quality.
Bachchansaab is very punctual and professional. Suppose we have an early morning shoot and there is a five-page scene to shoot, he will learn it thoroughly and come.
He will remain on the sets till the entire scene is over. We actors go to the vanity van or have tea or smoke a cigarette when a different camera angle is being set for the same scene. But he will not move from the sets. This passion that he has even after so many years of acting is a huge learning for me.
After acting with Shah Rukh Khan recently, you said that he can easily do a Gangs of Wasseypur. Why did you say that?
Shah Rukhsaab has played gangsters in films like Don, so he can easily do a Gangs of Wasseypur, if he gets a good director.
I have observed that Shah Rukh is a director's actor. He is the same actor who has done Swades and Chak De! India.
How would you describe your career?
I don't think I have achieved anything yet. I am still trying.
I thank God that I am going through a phase where I can experiment with my performances and I am not going to let go these opportunities.
You recently brought French farming technology to your village. Tell us about it.
We used to have a lot of water in our village. Five years ago, the water level was at 80 feet. Today, we have water at some 210 feet. Now, our area has been declared a 'dark zone'.
The equipment (which I have introduced) is called Pivot Irrigation System, in which a nozzle is attached to a long pipe and it rotates and showers water on the farm like rain. Therefore, it uses only 25 per cent of water.
I sat with the farmers from my village and the nearby villages, showed them a sample and asked them if it would work. Ninety six per cent of them were convinced that it would work.
So I am making it and will first use it on my land and see. Then I will pass it on to others who need it.
We must create an awareness to save water because the next generation will need it. If we can save 75 per cent of water with this technology, then why not use it?