The breakthrough actor talks about working with SRK, comparisons with Irrfan Khan, Hollywood and a lot more in this EXCLUSIVE conversation with BollywoodLife

We’ve celebrated his performances as Faizal Khan in Gangs Of Wasseypur, the IB Officer A Khan in Kahaani and Shaikh in The Lunchbox and now as Liak Tungekar in Badlapur, but it’s hard to pin Nawazuddin Siddiqui down as any one of them: he is the common man on the streets, blending with the crowd as expertly as he stands out with his performances.

Till a few years ago, few film goers including me had heard of Nawazuddin Siddiqui. But today he has made an enviable name for himself on the global stage as well as in his birth country, and remains popular with both the audiences as well as the critics.

So naturally, my happiness knew no bounds when I was told I have to interview the man himself. Finally, I got in touch with him and here’s how our conversation went down…

Everyone’s saying how you have overshadowed Varun Dhawan in Badlapur. Comment.

I don’t think any actor should have that fear of getting overshadowed by someone. One should just focus on how the audience is accepting their film and whether people are liking it or not. It’s really as simple as that.

Despite an A certificate, the movie is faring well at the box office. Do you think it will make Rs 100 crore?

I don’t know yaar. But personally I am very happy looking at the kind of response that the movie has got despite of the World Cup. With a tremendous word of mouth, I am sure it will do well.

What are your thoughts on this trend of Rs 100 crore club that is there in Bollywood today?

Honestly, I don’t believe it in at all. As I said, people should like the movie and that should be the only criteria to measure the success of a film.

There was a time when villains were as popular as the heroes. Do you think that time has returned with you getting prominent roles as an antagonist?

I have a slightly different opinion on this. Because the character that I played in Badlapur was way more than that of a villain. He is endearing but at the same time he is cunning. Yes, no doubt I have come from that school of cinema and I have seen villains and heroes onscreen during my childhood, but today lines have been blurred. There are no heroes and villains, there are just characters and that is how it should be.

You were always seen as a serious actor doing only art cinema, but today you are doing a lot of commercial films as well. Why did you make this switch?

I just want to tell stories my way and same goes for the films that I want to do. For example, I can’t say if Badlapur is an arty or a commercial film, but people are loving it and that’s what important. Take The Lunchbox as another example. It did a lot of business overseas. In fact, it’s the first small budget Hindi film to make that kind of money abroad. So what will we call such a film? Because by the looks it comes across as an arty film, but then if you look at the numbers, one can also call it commercial cinema, right? Art films were made ages ago and those kind of films were seen by few people, but that kind of cinema has vanished with time. I just believe that cinema today is either bad or it’s good.

Last year you did Kick, which was a huge success and now you are getting a lot of appreciation for your stellar act in Badlapur. Do you think that you are finally getting the credit that was due?

Yes and it’s a good thing. A bit late but very good nonetheless. Sometimes I think if I had got all these films five years back, probably I wouldn’t be as grounded as I am now. It helps that way.

But then don’t you have the fear of getting stereotyped?

Only heroes get stereotyped in Bollywood. I am doing characters that have so many layers. And I am very lucky to show a lot of variety. The problem is that our heroes have been stereotyped right from the ’60s and it hasn’t changed even till today. It’s high time it does.

Tell me about your future projects

I am working on Ketan Mehta’s Mountain Man and then there is Ghoomketu, which is an out-an-out comedy film. I am going to start shooting for Raees very soon. And Bajrangi Bhaijaan is halfway done.

Hollywood is not on cards?

I think I am at a point where the kind of films that are being made here are no less than any international film. So if my movies are already going to Hollywood, why do I need to star in theirs?

You are working with Shah Rukh Khan for the first time, while with Salman for the second time…

And it feels great. I am quite looking forward to work with Shah Rukh. As for Salman, we didn’t really bond while shooting for Kick, but this time we spent a great deal of time.

You and Irrfan Khan have been compared many a times. Do you feel irritated with these constant comparisons?

Of course I does get a bit irritating, because he is a very senior actor and I respect him a lot. So I don’t feel good when something like this happens. And it’s not just with Irrfan. If tomorrow anyone compares me to Dilip Kumar, I wouldn’t like it a bit. Each individual is different. By comparing, people are only insulting both of us. Neither they are understanding his craft, nor mine.