Nawazuddin Siddiqui: ‘In Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, I break all norms of a typical Bollywood hero'
For an audience used to a larger-than-life, brawny hero with six-packs beating bad guys to pulp without flinching or running around trees and wooing heroines, actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui may appear more than a little uncommon.
But clearly, audiences have embraced as Nawaz with his unconventional looks and persona, as can be seen with the successes of his films over the years. He has as much a reputation for standing out in commercial blockbusters like Bajrangi Bhaijaan as he does for smaller, content-driven films like Manjhi-The Mountain Man or Anurag Kashyap’s psychological thriller Raman Raghav 2.0.
When I meet Nawazuddin, alumni of the National School of Drama (NSD), for his upcoming film Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, he is clearly in a mood to vehemently oppose the portrayal of a typical Bollywood hero. “As the 'hero' of Babumoshai, my character breaks the mold of stereotypes that we have been watching for hundreds of years. He is a bit weird and I like that quirkiness in a character. The heroes that we see in our movies don’t exist in real life; they are all fake and I don’t like playing fake characters. For instance, a handsome dreamy hero who only loves the heroine, saves her, hits 10 ruffians, dances...I don’t like these kind of fake stuff,” says the versatile actor, while blowing rings of smoke in the air.
“If we do away with the quintessential Bollywood hero, new stories and concepts will emerge. We have thousands of interesting stories to tell. Everybody watches such varied content due to easy accessibility and if we show the same done to death love stories, it will be obviously rejected. The audience started changing a long time ago, as soon as they got access to the Internet. It's just that we have started acknowledging it now,” says Nawaz, further adding, “I don't want to comment on the recent failures at the box office, but the audience is not even accepting heroism. Our heroes will have to play characters now, like what Shah Rukh Khan did in Raees by playing a gangster, or what Salman did in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, despite being a superstar. These were taken from real life and it will work in the future, too.”
It is no wonder then, that Nawazuddin loves his character in Babumoshai Bandookbaaz.
“There is a whole world of contract killing out there, and the protagonist is the superstar of that world. He doesn’t follow any social or moral values, he is totally shameless. But at the same time, he also possesses a weird sense of humour. My character breaks all the societal norms that a typical Bollywood hero should follow,” grins Nawazuddin.
Babumoshai Bandookbaaz's troubles with the CBFC has been in the news for a while. The CBFC ordered 48 cuts along with a 'A' certificate to the film, but the matter was resolved with the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) clearing the film with eight “minor and voluntary cuts".
“A few words have been shifted here and there, however, everything else is going to be intact, or else the film would have been destroyed. The nuances in the character, the local flavour, would have been lost,” he says.
While Nawazuddin says that he refrains from signing too many films, he certainly wants to spread his reach far and wide. “I sat at home for 12 long years during my struggle period. I'm making the most of it now,” says the actor, who hails from Budhana, a small village in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. So when he does films with superstars like Shah Rukh Khan (Raees), Salman Khan (Kick and Bajrangi Bhaijaan), or Aamir Khan (Talaash), Nawazuddin believes that he, too, gets the limelight. “Of course, I get prominence because these stars have such huge mass appeal. When I am part of such projects, people watch me as well and that definitely benefits me.”
Nawazuddin further says, “Munna Michael may have been panned by the critics but I could make my presence felt among the single screen audience. What could be the bigger platform than doing a film with Tiger Shroff, on dance, and reach the single theatre audience?” he says.
Nawazuddin was recently in the news as well when, through his tweet, he slammed the Indian showbiz industry for its fixation with fair skin. “Racism is there in our society, not just in our industry. Our matrimonial ads often demand a fair girl. When I told people in my hometown that I want to become an actor, the immediate reaction was: ‘Have you seen your face, you are so dark..’ So racism starts there. Also, in our industry it’s said that I am an unconventional actor. How the hell can I be called unconventional when 90 per cent of the population of India have brown skin just like mine," he asks.