Begin again

Updated: 15 November, 2020 08:17 IST | Aastha Atray Banan | Mumbai

His stature restricts him to comedy, unfortunately, but MM Faruqi proves the stereotype is in your head by turning an eight-year performance drought on its head with killer acting as a dreaded don

In Mirzapur 2, Lilliput plays the role of Dadda Tyagi, a don from Bihar whose appearance beguiles his sinister ways
In Mirzapur 2, Lilliput plays the role of Dadda Tyagi, a don from Bihar whose appearance beguiles his sinister ways

Mirzapur's Devdutt Dadda Tyagi is 3 feet 5 inches, and still intimidating. He makes you think, "I never want to be caught on the wrong side of this guy." The actor who breathed life into Tyagi, MM Faruqi, is loving it. "People are telling me, 'height gayi gaddhe mein; you really scared us'. I take that as a big compliment; it never happens with me in real life!" Faruqi,

known by his screen name Lilliput, is taking a dig at his stature. Living with Achondroplasia, popularly known as drawrfism, has meant that the actor has had to make do with comic roles for much of his career. The last time he played an intimidating role was in 1998 on the television horror show, Woh. It's been a while since then that he has managed to make news. Season 2 of hit Amazon Prime show Mirzapur seems to have placed him in an unlikely spot, hitting the right notes with the audience.
Faruqi agrees that work has been scant. In 2012's, he did Luck Luck ki Baat, and in 2018, he appeared as himself in Kaamyaab. Later, came a small role in the TV show, Vidya. He has waited eight years to land a part that would get him noticed. A press report in 2017, in fact, quoted him saying that he was living off his daughter's earnings because no one was willing to give a chance to the film scripts he had
worked on.

"This role, I've been waiting for all my life," he says of the part that the web series makers Gurmeet Singh and Puneet Krishna, offered him. "They made sure they extracted a superb performance from me. And that viewers have liked Dadda, makes me very happy."

Survival in Bollywood hinges on networking, meeting the right people at social dos. And yet, he says, it's often that people "remember the person". "Someone will meet you one day, and the next day, tell someone else [about you], 'you know, I met Lilliput, and he's just so nice. He should get a role'. And then, finally one day, someone calls you." During this interview, he recalls meeting late actor Rishi Kapoor a few years ago. "He had the habit of spewing abuses while he spoke. He told me, 'why aren't you acting, working.' I listened to him for a while, and then said, 'I can't understand the grammar of the language this industry speaks'. I have never been able to get work easily, because I can't network. It's a misconception that if you are good, you get work. There are just too many people [vying for the same job], and only those who get seen a lot, get work."

MM Faruqi landed the role in the web series after an eight-year lull
MM Faruqi landed the role in the web series after an eight-year lull

Web series and OTT platforms, then, are obviously a godsend for character actors like him. It's the only space they can hope to experiment. "In the movies, everyone is tethered like cattle. Web series seem to have come as some sort of good luck for writers and actors craving freedom," he says.

To play Dadda Tyagi, Bihar's unlikely Bahubali, the soft-spoken actor says he didn't do much prep other than be determined to play the role as well as it was written. In fact, the first time it was offered to him, he turned it down. "I told them it's a role meant for the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, not me! But the makers insisted, and said, if anyone can do it, it was me. And then, suddenly I was Dadda, a man who used his insecurities to push himself up in life."

While the love has been pouring in from fans, Mirzapur 2's success hasn't brought him new offers. The man who knows the importance of patience, says, "Let's wait and see what God has in store."

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First Published: 15 November, 2020 08:06 IST

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