Nawazuddin Siddiqui dials up the romance with four films in 2019

09/11/2018

The actor is trading grit and grime for light-hearted love stories in as many as four out of six fi lms in the coming year
The new year will see Nawazuddin Siddiqui changing lanes, from serious dramas to light-hearted romances. And the actor couldn’t be happier. He surprises you with the admission that back in the ’80s and early ’90s, when he was dabbling in theatre in Delhi, he featured in so many comedies that he had acquired the tag of a ‘comedian’ and when he set out for Mumbai and the movies in 1996, his friends and fellow actors told him to steer clear of the laughs.
After breaking into Bollywood with a small role in the Aamir Khan-starrer Sarfarosh in 1999, Nawaz went on to impress in films like Dekh Indian Circus, Kahaani, Gangs of Wasseypur, Talaash, Manjhi, Raman Raghav 2.0, Badlapur, Raees, Mom and more recently, Manto. Most of his screen appearances, with a few exceptions like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Freaky Ali, have played up his intensity. But the actor himself is now keen to take a break from such roles whose hangover is difficult to shrug off. “Bahut ho gaya,” he exclaims. Now of the six films he has lining up for 2019, only one is a biopic and the other an action drama. The remaining four are fun-filled romcoms and sunshiny love stories.
This one is an out-and-out family entertainer which incorporates a romantic track with Athiya (Shetty) and revolves around a wedding. Ma baap sochte hain that once they get their kids married, it’s the end of all their problems, little realising that they have just begun. In fact, some of them crop up during the wedding itself when relatives rooth jaate hain and will stomp out if you are not able to smoothen their ruffled feathers. This marry-go-round unfolds in a small town. It’s a life I’m familiar with having grown up in one. Even the motichoor laddoos in the title bring back memories of many celebrations because while other sweets are eaten through the year, these laddoos are specially made for festivals and shaadis.
Another love story, this one with Sanya Malhotra and me as a photographer. It has the distinctive simplicity of Ritesh’s (Batra, director) earlier film, The Lunchbox, and will surely touch hearts too. It unfolds in Mumbai where lovers are strapped for time and have no place to romance. So, while in a small town a boy and girl can happily spend a couple of years just looking at each other from their terraces with no sense of urgency, in the city you have to make time for love in the hurry-scurry of everyday life, between job and commute. You usually meet on the train or the bus, in a cramped restaurant or while being jostled in the crowd.
This is my third straight film with a woman director (Tannishtha Chatterjee), the other two being Manto (Nandita Das) and Motichoor Chaknachoor (Debamitra Hasan). Ninety per cent of it was filmed in Rome and my co-star, Valentina Corti, is an extremely popular and professional actress, having done TV shows like Don Matteo, All The Music of the Heart and Titanic: Blood and Steel. But not for a minute did I feel that I was working in a country that was not my own and with an actress who was a foreigner. Actors across the world have the same concerns and passions as far as creativity goes.
And love knows no boundaries, rather it binds hearts. For me personally, love is unconditional support... It gives you the freedom to do what you want. That’s why maa ka pyaar sabse sachcha hota hai.
This is my most difficult project so far because it’s a Hindi-Marathi bilingual. Manto was a biopic too, but Thackeray is a bigger challenge because there is so much material available on Balasaheb, people have watched him live or on screen. I’ve been watching countless videos to imbibe his mannerisms, speech patterns and personality traits. It’s a lot of work and there’s a Part 2 as well. Currently the script for the sequel is being worked on.

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