Nawazuddin Siddiqui is one of the few Bollywood actors who can handle a commercial Bollywood movie as well as an art film. His rather ordinary look could have been a hurdle in an industry fixated on glamour, but the 43-year-old from Uttar Pradesh has managed to hold his own with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. Today, he is an international star sought-after by acclaimed directors.
Siddiqui plays the lead in Manto, which is about the troubled life of Indian-Pakistani writer Saadat Hasan Manto. The movie has been selected for the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes.
“When your film gets selected in a good category, you feel confident that you are on the right track and your choice of films is good,” Siddiqui told AFP in an interview. “I enjoy Cannes because it is such a big and prestigious platform. It’s a whole world revolving around films,” said Siddiqui.
Talking about what attracted him about Manto, Siddiqui said: “Manto was an honest man who wrote what he saw. He was transparent and there was no hypocrisy in his life.
“He thought about things in the 1940s which we fail to see or think about even today. He spoke and wrote the truth, and truth never gets old. To play him you have to be truthful too,” he added.
Siddiqui started his Bollywood career in 2000, But it wasn’t until 2012 that he got a proper breakthrough, and the actor saw himself playing prominent roles in films such as Talaash, Gangs of Wasseypur, Miss Lovely and Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
“I spent 10-12 years struggling. My lowest point was to find food and survive. Now I can do the work according to my choices,” he said.