Nawazuddin Siddiqui in an exclusive interview: You do not have to work in the West to prove yourself

Nawazuddin Siddiqui talks about being accepted in the industry, sharing screen space with the industry's top guns and why he thinks Hollywood projects are overrated

Nawazuddin Siddiqui has established himself as a seasoned performer with films such as 'Gangs Of Wasseypur' (2012), 'The Lunchbox' (2013), 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' (2015) and 'Badlapur' (2015) to his credit. We caught up with the actor ahead of the release of his next, Raman Raghav 2.0. Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Now that you have begun sharing screen space with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, do you feel accepted by the industry?
A. A lot of hard work has gone into being known for the kind of potential I possess. It definitely feels that filmmakers and the biggest stars of India believe in my acting ability and screen presence much more now. But I have a long way to go and there are a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Q. But even though you have been bagging films starring big names, you are yet to play lead roles in mainstream films.
A. I don't think on those lines. For me, the story of a film has to be appealing and my character has to be novel — something that I have not played before. Having said that, I am getting offers for lead roles in mainstream cinema. I am playing the lead roles in Te3n and Sohail Khan's romantic film. So definitely producers now believe that I can deliver a hit playing the lead role in a film.

Q. Many actors, who are essentially known for their talent and not for their stardom, complain about low pay scale in the Hindi film industry. Do you agree with them?
A. I cannot speak for others, but I am getting more than what I could have expected. I have no complaints about my remuneration at least. I do not even have to discuss my pay package with the producers now as they themselves are offering good money knowing my credibility as an actor.

Q. Many actors in Bollywood plan and opt for films and TV shows in the West. Do you also have a similar desire?
A. I do not believe that doing a film in the West should be considered a benchmark for actors here. It is sad that people are trying so desperately to get work in the West. I know of people who have been trying to bag roles through their agencies there (Hollywood) for the last 20 years or so. I am not amongst them.

Q. Why do you say so?
A. Simply because a lot of good work is being done in India. There are so many unconventional stories being told so beautifully and the audience is lapping them up too. Many recent Indian films have been celebrated globally. The Hindi film industry is also finding recognition abroad. Then why do I have to move to the West to prove my talent? You do not have to work in the West to prove yourself.

Q. What are your expectations from a thriller like 'Raman Raghav 2.0' at the box office?
A. I think the audience today in India is welcoming all kind of stories and subjects. Anurag had discussed this subject with me even before Gangs Of Wasseypur was conceived. Every film has a destiny and I am glad that this film is releasing soon. We are far more experienced now and must have delivered better than what we could have done back then and I am sure the audience will enjoy this one.

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