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“If someone tells me to work in only one particular kind of film, then that’s obviously not possible” – Nawazuddin Siddiqui

He has three releases in less than two months – ‘MOM’, ‘Munna Michael’ and ‘Babumoshai Bandookbaaz’. But Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who was very media-shy when he rose to prominence with ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’ and ‘Kahaani’ five years ago, seems unfazed. He has probably got used to the hectic promotional activities and appears calm and jovial. Talking to us primarily about ‘Munna Michael’, this dynamic actor opens up about his experience, his idea of a ‘hit film’, process of picking up a film and a lot more. Here are excerpts from the interview.

How was your experience of shaking your leg in ‘Munna Michael’?
It was very scary! I had never danced in my life. But we managed. I rehearsed rigorously for 2-3 days. Thankfully, we had with us choreographer Ganesh Acharya who can make even a bamboo pole dance! He says that “agar aap chal sakte ho, toh dance bhi kar sakte ho” (If you can walk, then you can also dance).

Was it difficult matching steps with Tiger?
I can never match steps with Tiger. He can shake every part of his body! I have tried to do at least 1-2% of what Tiger can do.

But isn’t that great that now you also have dancing as one of your talents?
Exactly! I have always believed that the roles that make me insecure are the ones that I should grab ASAP. I have never aspired to work in my comfort zone.

Isn’t it surprising that despite doing so many films, you never had to dance in any of them?
Yes of course. Maybe, it never crossed to any of the makers that “let’s make him dance.” Somehow director Sabbir Khan thought of it. At first, I didn’t realize that I am required to dance. Later I found out and initially, I refused to take up the role. There was a huge mental block when it came to dancing. But at the same time, as I mentioned earlier, I thought that dancing is something that the actor should know. Also, this role was way out of my comfort zone. Hence, I took up the challenge.

It’s shocking to believe that you have never danced in your life prior to Munna Michael.
Yes, I have never danced, not even with friends. Actually, as a kid, I did shake my leg in marriage processions in my village Budhana. We would roam around the groom, who used to be on a horse, and dance. We used to do this just so that we could grab the money thrown by ‘baaraatis’ (wedding guests).

You have an unrecognizable avatar in your other upcoming film, ‘MOM’. How difficult it is to change your get up for a character?
I don’t believe in get-ups or that it is simply needed to make a mark. What’s important is to change your mindset, as per the character that you are portraying. You can’t don different avatars in order to showcase your versatility. You can do two different kinds of roles but be in the same get up and yet ensure that both performances stand out – that’s versatility. In ‘MOM’, the idea was to throw light on these unique characters that you might find in certain areas of Delhi like Daryaganj, Chandni Chowk etc. You might overlook them or not even notice them. But if you have a conversation with them, you might get gripped to their talks. They’ll make you believe that whatever you want, they’ll get it done. They are quite ‘jugaadbaaz’ (fixers). This is the kind of person I play in ‘MOM’. We haven’t made many changes to my look – I have only worn a prosthetic wig.

Is it true that nobody, not even Sridevi, was not able to recognize you, thanks to your look, in ‘MOM’?
Yes, nobody could make out it was me. I was standing next to Sridevi and I heard her saying, “Where is Nawaz? Why is he so late?” I told her, “Ma’m, I am very much here”!

I know it would be difficult for you to answer but please tell which film is closer to your heart – ‘MOM’ or ‘Munna Michael’?
Every film is a joy and every film has its flavor. ‘Munna Michael’ is as important as any other film – it’s a masala film. It has all the ingredients of an entertainer and not just for the heck of it. The plot is structured in such a way that masala is an integral part of it.

Your core fan base loves you as you do unconventional and art films. How have they reacted after seeing you dancing to “Gandi Baat” in a masala film like ‘Munna Michael’?
I believe that my fans should understand that I am an actor and I’ll be required to do diverse kind of roles. So keeping this in mind, if someone is able to love me, then that’s great. But if someone tells me to work in only one particular kind of film, then that’s obviously not possible. My advice to such people is that they should be fans of some other actor, not me! I feel most of my fans however love me because I attempt different kind of roles.

You are also doing Nandita Das’s ‘Manto’. What’s the latest update on that?
The shoot is over but the post-production will take up a lot of time as it’s a period film. The VFX itself will take many months. Hence, it should release next year.

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