After making his presence felt in Bollywood with Rang De Basanti, actor Siddharth was quite busy with his assignments in the South.
But now, he is back in Mumbai with a role in David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor. He plays the part that Ravi Bawsani had enacted in Sai Paranjpye’s 1981classic, Chashme Buddoor.
“Nothing substantial had been offered to me so far. Whenever I am in Mumbai, I am asked about my six-pack — every young actor in Bollywood has started looking the same, and that’s scary. The only way I get work in Mumbai is if the A-listers turn down films. I was the 17th actor approached for Rang De Basanti. I was probably the 17,000th option for Midnight’s Children. I am lucky Deepa was in Mumbai long enough to hear about me,” says Siddharth with brutal candour.
Siddharth thinks the two versions of Chashme Buddoor are a world apart. “I’d never dare to compare David’s and Sai Paranjye’s Chashme Buddoor. There’s no connection between the two. I had great fun with my character in Chashme Buddoor. Usually, I am not a director’s actor, which, in India, means the actor does nothing, just comes on the sets and asks, ‘Character ka naam kya hai?’ I have my own elaborate process of approaching a role. But with David and Deepa, I surrendered completely. It would have been impossible to do two such contrasting roles simultaneously.”
For the role in Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children, Siddharth was the author Salman Rushdie’s personal choice.
Says Siddharth, “Salman says my character, Shiva, is very special. He is an iconic character in the novel. I always considered Saleem Sinai as one of the greatest heroes in literature. And a great hero one needs some kind of a foil — I play that foil. I don’t have the kind of space in the novel or the script that Saleem Sinai has. Working with Deepa is a dream come true. She’s a mother-figure and a great friend. Being with her is cathartic. Expressing a disenchantment with the quality of cinema in India, Siddharth says, “We’re happier with regressive, not progressive cinema, more eager to crossover into the West than to make pan-India films. It’s really disturbing. I have to say I’ve been singularly fortunate to get interesting roles. I came into acting with no background in cinema.In my 8-9 year career I’ve worked with 10 debutante directors.”
After Midnight’s Children Siddharth is again working with a female director, Nandini Reddy, this time in a “high-energy comedy”.
Says Siddharth, “Nandini is the first director I’m working with who has made a hit film before. I’ve never done that before. It’s taken eight years for a hit director to want to work with me.”