'Love, be it between a boy and a girl or your passion for your craft, carries with it no complaints.'
An interview with Nawazuddin Siddiqui is never just a question-and-answer session. It's a discussion, sometimes prosaic, sometimes profound, sometimes philosophical.
This is an actor who even after 25 years is passionate about his craft. This is a man who even when dreams come apart, refused to admit defeat.
As he tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, "It's best to hold on to the hope that something beautiful could be waiting for you at the next turn."
The title of your next film Jogira Sara Ra Ra is associated with Holi revelry. What are your memories of the festival?
I have some really fond memories of Holi in my village of Budhna.
Also, at the NSD (National Institute of Drama) in Delhi.
(Chuckles) The day would pass by in a bhang haze without any of us even realising it.
Go on, tell us more...
Well, there was always this one person among us at the institute who would steer clear of the bhang temptation and remain stone cold sober.
He was our undisputed leader for the day and we would all follow him.
If he went around in circles, we would too.
Sometimes he would walk to the RTO chauraha, which was around two-three kilometres away, with us trailing behind him in a single file.
There we would eat parathas, then follow him to some other place, without any questions, since we were in no state to ask them.
Eventually, we would all collapse, koi idhar, koi udhar, completely unaware of our surroundings, till he herded us back to our rooms.
Stardom has brought you far away from that world. At times, don't you wish you could go back to those carefree days?
Yes, sometimes I do feel that life was so much better them.
But since this life offers a little bit of the bad with the good, you learn to accept both and the highs and lows you go through make you a stronger person.
You understand that if you can feel great joy when you are on your way up, then you can't crib too much when you are coming down because that's the cycle of life.
You just have to pick yourself up after every fall and continue the journey.
Shah Rukh Khan once admitted that his biggest fear after becoming a superstar is that one day he will wake up and no one will recognise him...
I wish that would happen to me.
Life would be beautiful!
I could freely go wherever I wished.
Walk down the road, take a train, go to some remote village, sit with the farmers there and listen to the people there.
Hum logon ke beech ke aadmi hain. I miss not being around people.
When you go back to Budhna, are you treated differently now that you are a star?
Not in my village, no.
(Laughs) It's in Western UP and people don't change there.
While talking to me they still give gaalis, like they did when I was a child.
It makes me happy, koi to hai gaali denewala.
As Jogi Pratap in Jogira Sara Ra Ra, you are determined to steer clear of marriage despite pressure from the family. Personally too, do you think marriage is an institution best avoided?
I believe marriage is a union of two people, aur jab do log ek sapna dekhte hain, living that dream is far easier than chasing after it alone.
So, would you recommend it?
Marriage is a man-made institution, it works for some and maybe not for others.
Kissi ke saath achcha hota hai aur kissi ke saath burra.
Whether you should marry or not is a different matter altogether.
What is important is this concept of two people coming together to live a life aur yeh do logon ki milan jo hai bahut khubsoorat hai!
You have experienced love in many different ways on screen. How do you see love and romance today?
For me, love is the happiness you experience living with each other.
Also, as Dalai Lama puts it so aptly, 'Love is the absence of judgement.'
When you are in love, you never judge each other.
It is only when love dies that you start blaming the other, passing judgement.
Love, be it between a boy and a girl or your passion for your craft, carries with it no complaints.
Even when you are just romancing nature, it rejuvenates you, makes everything around look fresh and beautiful.
And when the dreams you wove together start to come apart, how does that feel?
You start afresh.
Thode ki aap haar ke bath jao, life is not about endings, it is about beginnings.
If you are broken and beaten and it doesn't always have to be because of a girl and pyaar-mohabbat you could lose out on something better.
It's best to hold on to the hope that something beautiful could be waiting for you at the next turn.
Talking about dreams, you custom-built a six-bedroom house, brick by brick, in Mumbai. What is it like living in this white palace, your very own Taj Mahal? It must feel like an achievement?
Sach bataoon, I'm least interested in it.
Yes, it's my home, but I don't live there.
I'm away for two-three months, return for just four-five days, then am off again.
So no, it doesn't feel like an achievement.
Achievement is when I am able to execute even five percent of my vision in a performance, that brings happiness.
Jogira Sara Ra Ra may look like a light-hearted romcom, but it was shot in difficult times, during the pandemic. What was the experience like?
That was a scary time, my director contracted Covid, so did Neha (leading lady Neha Sharma) and even the boy who would feed me.
I think I was the only one in the unit who managed to evade the coronavirus.
It was difficult shooting in such a tense atmosphere, but I had to take off my mask and face the camera because the show must go on.
It was this spirit that helped us complete the film.
Has the pandemic changed you as a person?
Oh yes, there have been plenty of changes.
I was never greedy for more.
And after seeing so many people pass away, I've understood that its best to live in the moment.
Why plan what you will do two-three years from now when kal ka kuch pata nahin.
Life is so fleeting, you are here today, tomorrow you will be gone.
In these two years maine jeena seekh liya, the pandemic was a great life lesson that taught me the futility of chasing after money.
It's made me a very cool person and hopefully, will help me live my life better.
Have you cut down on your work, slowed down a bit?
Bilkul, now only if I feel a role is worth doing will I accept it.
I want to do a bit of travelling now, whenever I can make the time, I want to take off somewhere.
Maybe some country in Europe.
The day after this film releases, I will be off.
On a vacation?
Will you be taking your children along too?
Ji ji, bachchon lo bhi le ke jaonga.
Your daughter Shora is growing up into a beautiful girl, and your son Yaani is also really cute. Any signs that they are looking to follow their father into the film industry?
Difficult to say, but sometimes from her rang dhang, I think in the future Shora could get interested.
Right now, she is focused on her studies, but there is the germ of creativity in her.
If she does want to become an actress, will you allow her to do so?
Of course, I will, isse badi baat kya hogi mere liye?
No matter what she wants to do, she has my support, whether it's acting or something else, it's fine with me.
Recently, you moved court to ensure that your children's education in the UAE was not interrupted and got a judgment in your favour.
I understand the value education, I could not go to the best of schools, so I'm very strict that nothing should interfere with my children's studies.
Every parent wants their child to get the best education and as far as I'm concerned, I can make any sacrifices for it.