I knew not many would understand 'Manto': Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Published: August 2, 2019
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PHOTO: HINDUSTAN TIMES

PHOTO: HINDUSTAN TIMES

For Bollywood’s unconventional hero, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, it’s never about making a commercial film. Maybe that’s why when his films don’t mint numbers at the box office, it doesn’t really affect him.

Siddiqui’s portrayal as the controversial Pakistani writer, Saadat Hasan Manto – as the actor predicted – wasn’t that well received. And he was prepared for the underwhelming response it garnered from the audience.

But except for Netflix’s Sacred Games, Siddiqui hasn’t really managed to deliver a blockbuster.

PHOTO: NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

PHOTO: NEW INDIAN EXPRESS

“When I did Manto or Photograph, I knew not many would understand these films. Somewhere I knew that box office result might not be satisfactory because the language of such films is a little different,” he recently told Hindustan Times.

“Even the pace of Photograph is not something that everyone would be able to relate to. Thackeray, too, had its own reason for not doing well at the box office. But as an actor, I’d continue making these films even if they don’t work. Kuch films aapke dil ke qareeb hoti hain, jiski sensibility aapse match karti hai (there are certain films that are close to an actor’s heart and matches his sensibility).”

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

Talking about how such films never work, the actor shared, “It’s painful when films don’t work. It makes me think ‘why people didn’t watch them?’ Then I wonder that glamourous films would always work or even an action-thriller, that’s why some times I opt for that too. But then, I also need to satisfy my creative urge. My intention is to make good films; hopefully I’ll be understood in the long run.”

So, does that mean that a large part of the audience is not ready for such artsy films yet?

“The audience here has got used to fast-paced films. Sometimes I feel like our audience has matured but perhaps there’s still some time left. And some times it feels like we make films for an audience that is yet to understand them,” continued Siddiqui. “Same happened for Roma. When it went to Venice Film Festival and then received Oscars, people started taking interest in it. So, unless it becomes sensational, many don’t watch such films.”

SCREENGRAB

SCREENGRAB

Apart from Sacred Games, what else is Siddqui working on? Rumour has it that he will be teaming up with Irrfan Khan again after The Lunchbox. To this, he shared, “The project is at a nascent stage. And I have also heard that Irrfan might be part of it. But nothing has been finalised yet.”

Siddiqui went on, “I just finished my web series, then I have Bole Chudiyan and Sudhir Mishra’s Serious Men. I’m also doing a film called No Lands Man, directed by Bangladeshi film-maker Mustafa Sarwar Farooqui.”

The actor has always been very vocal about facing biases related to skin colour, appearances in the industry. Has anything changed for him?

“Not just the film industry, such taboos exist everywhere. Things won’t change anytime soon,” Siddiqui went on. “And in Bollywood, it’s rampant, it has always been there. Our public still wants to see a fair skinned actor onscreen. So, it’s all a part of society. This mentality reflects in Bollywood. A total change is required.”

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