Director Ketan Mehta feels no one but Nawazuddin Siddiqui could’ve played the titular role in Manjhi — The Mountain Man since his 15-year-long struggle in the industry was nothing less than breaking a mountain.
“Even Nawaz has broken a mountain in his life. A man who has come from a small village and established his position in Bollywood is like breaking a mountain,” Mehta said at the Indian Institute Of Technology-Bombay which he visited with the actor as part of the film’s promotion.
“Everyone believes that Nawaz is the best actor amongst his generation. Secondly, his physical type also perfectly matches with Dashrath Manjhi on whom this film is based on. Manjhi too was a short man with a lean physique. The intensity in him was amazing; especially in his eyes and that same intensity can be seen in Nawaz’s eyes. And this intensity has pulled him to this level today,” said Mehta about the similarities between the two.
Nawazuddin had started out with small roles in films such as Sarfarosh, Munnabhai MBBS among others before making his impression in films such as Kahaani and Gangs Of Wasseypur II. He is now riding high with his performance in the blockbuster Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Actor Radhika Apte plays Nawazuddin’s love interest in the film, for which he sets about breaking a mountain, a story inspired from Manjhi’s life.
The Kick actor drew parallels between Manjhi and Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who erected the Taj Mahal for his beloved. “The way Shah Jahan took 22 years to build Taj Mahal in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Dashrath Manjhi took the same time and cut the mountain alone for his wife. The difference between them is that Shah Jahan was rich enough to build the Taj Mahal but Manjhi was so poor that he only had a hammer to cut the mountain,” reported The Indian Express
Meanwhile, Nawazuddin said that he had to apply a lot of practices to come out of his true self. “I set off to Jaisalmer and would vanish for 8-10 days. I went to places where people didn’t know me, just to get a reality check, to feel like a normal person.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2015.