In our latest episode of FC Unfiltered, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui speaks to a roomful of acting students about his extraordinary journey. He speaks about the days when he went without food, money and was so sick that he had clumps of hair falling out. When asked about whether he ever doubted if he could become an actor, he said – I was always an actor. I just didn't have work. This year Siddiqui will be seen playing Saadat Hasan Manto in Nandita Das's film as well Netflix's first Indian series Sacred Games. He's currently preparing to play Balasaheb Thackeray in a biopic.
'I WAS ALWAYS AN ACTOR. I JUST DIDN'T HAVE WORK'
I never thought of money and I never thought of becoming an actor as well because I was already an actor – I just didn't have work. It was a problem of survival – we just wanted enough money to live. And enough to get us from Goregaon East to Four Bungalows or Bandra. We needed just enough food to make the journey without fainting. Had I belonged to a rich family and had to go through this, I would have quit. But I came from such a family – wahaan pe bhi laale pade hue the. It was the same for me in National School of Drama – so I never felt like it was a big change for me.
'EVEN IF DE NIRO DID A COMMERCIAL FILM, IT WOULD BE CRITICISED'
I've done films for the money but I've done them with conviction. The truth is you give performances in commercial films that you can't do in other films, but you don't get appreciation for it. Why? Because they were commercial films. People and a lot of critics think, "If It's commercial – it's bad." The mindset is that art films are good films and we'll give those 5 stars – even if it's boring. Even if Robert De Niro did a commercial film, they'd say he sucked.
'I WON'T DO SHAADI-VYAH FILMS. THEY'RE TOO EASY'
I'm an actor and I'll do any character that I get. That's my right. I want to do interesting and difficult characters. I won't go shaadi-vyah films. They're too easy and become hits. If I ever feel like doing some lighter stuff, I'll do them. But I have no such plans now. You only live once and if I get to do all the roles I want, then that's great. A thousand films are made every year. And if I ask you to name six films from two years ago, you can't. But they were such big hits!
'I'M NOT UNCONVENTIONAL. 90 % OF THE COUNTRY LOOKS LIKE ME'
People in the news, call me an unconventional actor. How am I unconventional? I'm conventional because 90% of the people here are like me. I am the one who is conventional! Unconventional is the 6 foot gora-chita hero. How many of those do you find in India? Very few. In my mohalla, there's not one. And if we ever find one, we tell them, 'What are you doing here? Go to Bombay and become a hero!' We don't let them stay there because they are unconventional.
'I DON'T DESERVE A FAMILY. I MADE A MISTAKE'
I realize now that I didn't deserve a family. I made a mistake. Because I still am unable to give my wife and kids the time that they need. Even I'm sitting, I'm in my own thoughts. They tap me and say, "Where are you?" This problem is ongoing. I'm lost in my characters and I enjoy that life. When I come into the real life, I'm afraid of everyone. I can't face it. That's why I don't go to events or award shows. This is my comfort. You can tell the truth here. The thousand lies that you have to tell in real life everyday scares me. And I feel guilty doing that. That's why I enjoy my characters. When you're doing a character with honesty in front of a camera, that's what I enjoy. At least I'm telling the truth no matter if it's through the character.
Watch the full episode here: