A year after playing Saadat Hasan Manto, the Urdu writer who championed free speech and tolerance, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is set to step into the shoes of Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena founder on the other end of the spectrum. The actor spoke about what drew him to the role and why there was no conflict of interest playing a man who spoke out against Muslims and immigrants from Uttar Pradesh – both of which Siddiqui is:
Anupama Chopra (AC): I was completely admiring ki as an actor, what you can do and the range of characters you can play. But kahin mujhe thoda sa darr bhi laga ki aisi film aur itni powerful performance – iska kya asar hoga? Toh aapke zehen mein kabhi yeh baatein aayi?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui (NS): Asar matlab kis cheez ka?
AC: He was such a charismatic leader, right? He was also a problematic leader. What is the messaging of the film? I can only see from the trailer. Hum already itne divided aur polarized world mein reh rahe hai. Toh aise mahaul mein, aisi film, iska kuch galat asar ho sakta hai?
NS: Ab yeh to tabhi pata chalega actually jab release hogi, kya asar, kya fark pad raha hai. Balasaheb toh already controversial the. Aur joh the, wahi dikhaya isme. Extra kuch humne karne ki koshish hi nahi ki thi. Iska kya asar hoga, main toh as an actor sirf yeh keh sakta hoon ki mere liye toh ek opportunity thi. Kyunki yeh character, yeh role aisa hai ki world ka koi actor karna chahega. Kyunki inti interesting journey unki rahi hai life mein aur jab film release hogi, pata chalega ki kis tareeke se log le rahe hai. But I think jaise apne bola hi ki woh humare andar waakayi honi chahiye dekhne ki ki thodasa apne dil ko aur dimaag ko thoda bada karein. Kyunki jaise West mein banti hai, har tarah ki biopic banti hai aur jo jinda bhi hote hai log woh dekhte hai. Itna zyaada kuch woh hai toh nahi machti. Film ko film ki tarah hi lete hai.
AC: You had said that when you got the film, jab aapko finalize kiya, you said, “It was the greatest moment of my life.” Toh isiliye greatest moment tha kyunki he’s such a challenge to play?
NS: Absolutely. Aur mujhe maloom tha ki maine apne life mein, humara jo experience hua hai, jo seekha hai humne, woh uska jab pata chalta hai na kisi ek role mein usko execute karne ka mauka milega aapki skill ko, aapki craft ko, usse achha actor ke liye kya ho sakta hai?
AC: Lekin Nawaaz, aap apne jo personal beliefs ho, ya politics ho, unko bilkul hi alag karke koi bhi kirdaar…
NS: Mera koi beliefs nahi hai. Mein sach bata raha hoon, na toh koi meri philosophy, na koi ideology, na mera koi beliefs hai. Sach bata raha hoon.
AC: Lekin woh UP ke immigrants ke khilaf bolte the, Muslims ke khilaf bolte the. Aap UP se ek Muslim actor hain, toh isme koi conflict of interest nahi hai?
NS: Mere jaise actor ko unhone cast kiya hai. Atleast uska appreciation toh milna chahiye unko.
AC: Absolutely. I’m just wondering ki as an actor, aap kya compartmentalize karte hai apne head mein, ya hai hi nahi koi ideology?
NS: Meri koi ideology nahi hai. Main agle janam mein paida honge tab koi na koi dekh lunga. Abhi toh main sirf is janam mein toh artist hi rehna chahta hoon. Next kahin birth hoga toh usme decide karenge kya ideologies rakhni hai mujhe.