From Being A Watchman To Making A Mark In Bollywood: The Journey Of Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Posted on June 17, 2014 in Culture-Vulture, Specials

By Mihika Jindal:

There once lived a boy in a small town called Budhana in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. He belonged to a lower middle class Muslim family. His father was a farmer and he was brought up amongst eight other siblings – six brother and 2 sisters. His household and background was possibly as humble as humble could get, but his dreams were big, his heart determined and his destiny gripped in his own hands — we know him today as Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

nawazuddin siddiqui

Good looks, suave moves, preferably a flamboyant filmy family and an additional ‘Kapoor’ or a ‘Khan’ suffixing the name will mostly prove to be hot-hit formula to be a hero in Bollywood. Fortunately, the stereotypical notions are at stake and the audience is demanding more. With the advent of parallel and cross-over cinema, the reel life characters are designed in a way that is not typical to mainstream commercial cinema. Nawazuddin Siddiqui strongly proves that he may not have the pre-requisites of a quintessential Bollywood hero but he has his skills in place.

Nawaz, as industry fondly calls him, has a life story which is worth the narration. It is both ironic and amusing how his life is fabulously filmy. His story is that of ‘rags-to-riches’.

A son amongst 9 siblings in a lower middle class Muslim family based out of Muzaffarnagar sounds like of regular mundane life. He completed his graduation from a University in Haridwar, whereafter he worked as a regular graduate in a petrochemical company. [1] The much expected boredom did set in, which sent Nawaz to Delhi where he worked as a watchman. Along with working as a watchman, he began watching theater plays and eventually became a part of one. That marked his first step towards his present day reality. The cards opened up for him in every favourable way and he graduated from the prestigious National School of Drama in 1996.

What could have happened next happened next. With a degree to show and a dream to live, he too moved to Mumbai to claim his fortune. In Mumbai Nagariya, known to cater to endless dreams and stardom, he made his debut with a small role in Shool with much acclaimed actor Manoj Bajpai in 1999. Nothing can remain hunky-dory for too long and so what followed next was a filmy episode too. He went pillar to post, from studios to sets and could land himself only with small typical roles. He suffered his worst struggle when he couldn’t even pay his rent in Mumbai. He requested his NSD senior if he could live with him. The senior was living in Goregaon and agreed to accommodate Nawaz provided he would cook two meals a day. [2]

Every night has a dawn they say! Nawaz’s talent had to be recognized. Right from Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahani, where he gave a breathtaking performance as the short-tempered curt IB Officer Khan, to his role as an apprentice in Lunch Box and his epic role in Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2, Nawazuddin Siddiqui needs no introduction today. He proudly adorns a hat full of victory feathers — be it his latest filmfare award for Lunch Box or his screen award for Talaash. His name has also been read and grasped at international film festivals for his various other works. The wedding singer ‘Chakku’ in Patang directed by Prashant Bhargava, which was shot in 2007-08, was premiered at Berlin Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. Nawaz’s commoner approach and natural acting attracted bountiful of praises from world renowned critic Roger Ebert. His role in Patang marked the transformation in his acting style. [3]

It definitely adds to the zeal and enthusiasm for me when I spot Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a ‘next-change’ or a ‘Now-Showing’ movie poster. He has truly created a niche for himself in cross-over, intense and meaningful cinema. Looking at Nawaz inspires me to follow my true calling and say it aloud — “It’s definitely never too late to live your dreams!”

1. “My father is a farmer too: Nawazuddin”; The Times of India; 2 October 2010;
2. Bollywood diaries! Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s journey from a watchman to darling of crossover cinema : Celebrities, News – India Today; 4 November, 2012;
3. “Patang Movie Review & Film Summary (2012)”. Chicago Sun-Times. 13 June 2012.