When I met Nawazuddin Siddiqui for the first time, the first thing that struck me is how quiet he is. He had come home with Ketan Mehta, who was shooting the Dashrath Manjhi biopic with the actor, and Nawazuddin was limping with a stick due to an injury he had gotten on location.
Ketan and I did most of the speaking. Nawazuddin just stared at me with a smile that I found disturbing. It was almost as if he was evaluating me and storing away the data for further usage.
A keenly observant actor; that was my first impression of Nawazuddin. He seemed to be taken aback by the kind of success that has come his way. Nawazuddin comes from the humblest of backgrounds, with not even a proper roof over the family’s head and no cinema theatres in their village. So there are no stories to tell about how the wannabe actor grew up emulating Big B in front of the mirror.
Now when he's in the news for ‘molesting’ ,‘assaulting’, ‘threatening’ , ‘pushing’ (will the electronic media please make up its mind?) a lady over parking space, it's not the immediate story that(which is a silly little territorial argument blown up into a wide-screen war).
We are looking the birth of a star. What we saw on the ill-fated day was Nawazuddin facing a battery of television cameras, as he emerged from the police station, with his brother next to him (every out-of-town actor who becomes a star, has a close family member by his or her side). What thoughts must be going through Nawazuddin’s head to see such an obscene amount of interest over such a minor issue?
I remember when I first saw Nawazuddin blow the screen apart in a cameo as a man wrongly-branded terrorist in Kabir Khan’s New York. I had sought the actor’s identity out, called him and congratulated him.
For a very long time Nawazuddin insisted (wrongly) that people in the film industry took notice of him after I wrote about him. That rush of gratitude has now dissolved. When a few months ago Nawazuddin came home, again it was a different man with a different plan. Nawazuddin appeared far more confident now. He showed me his newly-born daughter’s pictures on his phone. When I asked if he would like her to be an actress, he shook his head vigorously in the negative.
Stardom has made Nawazuddin a cynic. It has also made him behave and talk in a manner that he has been advised to. The way he dresses these days and poses for magazine covers has robbed him of his brutally elemental quality. But then you can’t be a star without losing your innocence. Nawazuddin has lost his sense of incredulousness about showbiz. The incident in the parking lot only corroborates his belief that he is now a star and therefore vulnerable to attacks.
Somewhere when a star is born, the child inside dies.