Nawaz Calling Kalki: In Conversation With Nawazuddin Siddhiqui And Kalki Koechlin
Nawaz Calling Kalki: In Conversation With Nawazuddin Siddhiqui And Kalki Koechlin

We thought it would be a great idea to bring Nawazuddhin Siddhiqui and Kalki Koechlin together to discuss cinema and to talk about the most challenging on-screen experiences they have had






How much time did it take you to become Ganesh Gaitonde again?


When you are doing something for the first time… it takes you time to find the right rhythm for your character. But, the second time around, it was not that difficult because here you know the spine and the base of your character and then you do what is required of you in the scene. For Ganesh Gaitonde, when we were doing the first season, we very innocently went ahead with our work. But there was equal possibility of becoming over-confident the second time around and that is a very dangerous space to be in. So, our plan was to start from scratch, though we knew the basic essence of the character, there will be new situations which will have different reactions. Also, there are new characters, who are joining the cast of the show, they bring in new energy, new reactions and their own charm.


Your dialogue from season one, Kabhi kabhi lagta hai apun hi bhagwan hai was at one point the most read message on t-shirts. Have you ever worn that t-shirt?


 I have never worn a t-shirt in my life. On most occasions, we are so unaware which dialogue will get love from the audience. In fact, the ‘Kabhi Kabhi’ dialogue mujhe bahut hi ajeeb lagta hai…main aaj tak nahi samjha logo ko usme kya pasand aaya There was also this dialogue from Gangs of Wasseypur, Baap ka dada ka sabka badla lega tera faisal had become a huge craze…I was very embarrassed when I was saying it and in my head.


Given the success you’ve achieved, do you plan your career now?


I don’t plan my career, but yes there are a few ideas that I have in my mind which I would like to complete someday. I don’t think I can call myself an achiever.. We are still and will always be in the process. Like life on stage — one play followed by another play.


When you are offered a new script do you look at things that you’ve not done or things that you can do better?


New things fascinate me. I like it when I get to work with a new director and a new vision. I like to experience what the director has in mind because I didn’t have that experience in my life before. This is what fascinates me as an actor, so I look for something new. But there are times when similar roles are offered and I feel that I can do something more to them. Take the role of a gangster, I had already played one in Gangs of Wasseypur, so when I was offered Sacred Games I asked Anurag Sir what new can be done here and he was sure that we will be taking the game one notch higher with Ganesh Gaitonde. We did take it higher and I learnt despite being oblivious to its possibility, that Gaitonde was an even more difficult role than Faizal and there were so many shades and layers to be explored. I get comfort when I’m put out of my comfort zone.


You teamed up with Anurag Kashyap once again. How was the collaboration this time?


Anurag Sir and I go back a long time in history … But his process is very different every time we’ve worked together. So, for me, every time I work with him, the process is new and different and absolutely unexpected.







 What got you interested in Sacred Games?


 I was so happy that I got auditioned for the series; in fact, I had to give two auditions. I loved the first season and I saw it in two nights. I was very frustrated with the way they ended the show and now I was like: at least now I know what will happen in the show.


How did you piece your character together in the show? 


My character’s background is tricky; she was born in France but is half Palestinian and half Jewish and she comes and joins Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi) and she speaks chaste Hindi. She speaks English with a French accent, so getting the nuances right was difficult, something I was nervous about. No one on the set would say if I was saying it right or wrong. I would go to the sound guy and ask if my accent was right and I’m sure he must be going, ‘What accent, bhai? What is the accent?’ (Laughs). It is such a mix you don’t even know how you are doing it. So that is a little scary.


Do you think Bollywood is still not too sure of what to offer you…


I don’t think it is Bollywood’s responsibility to give me work, it is my responsibility to get work for myself. There is some work that is better than the other. You do different projects for different reasons: some you do for the platform, some you do for the money and some for the experience. So it is our job to figure out different ways to stand out.


When you entered the industry you said you had ‘No expectations’. What is your emotion as of now?


It is a very important thing to keep on saying ‘No expectations’ to yourself, be it in relationships or work, as life keeps changing and your skills evolve, your choices will also change. You should have ambition, wanting to do better, trying to do things which you haven’t done before and break the stereotype. At times, we as actors feel that we should wait for work to come to us but I think you should create your own work. Today, there are so many platforms and people are doing so much work.


You and Kalki have formed a very good team together. Have you tried to figure out why you two click?


She has a great sense of writing and timing. So, when you read the script you know at this point there is a pause or a laughter or this is a funny ironic thing. I think that is her real strength. Why does she like me? I must be a terrific person (laughs).







 Which has been your most difficult role and why?


It has to be Bal Thackeray because I had to walk a very thin line, wherein, I behave like him but not do his mimicry. In biopics, one can very easily end up doing that. Also, people have seen him in real life and heard him he passed away only in 2012. Also, me being non-Maharashtrian, I had to speak a lot of Marathi in the film and give long speeches, so that was difficult.


What is your process to prepare for a role?


I don’t know if my process is right or wrong. I prepare according to the character, there are some which require a lot of preparation and then there are those which you do on the spot on the basis of what the director tells you. There cannot be only one process for all kind of roles.


How are you dealing with the hero tag that has been bestowed upon you?


 It feels very nice (laughs). Most things happen very easily, how you don’t have to go into a lot of preparations.


What crap.


 Ya, the kind of films that I’m doing right now woh pyaar, shaadi, mohabbat wali hai, jo aaj kal chal rahi hai. You don’t need to prepare a lot. Ghar se bas acha ban ke jaao..acha chehra rakho, ache kapde pehno.







How do you shift gears from theatre to films to web shows?


When I’m preparing for a play, I only concentrate on my play and my character. I don’t take up any other work in that time. But once the play is up and running, you just switch on and switch off. Movies and web series are the same medium for us. Maybe the vanity vans are different and cheques are different. So, preparation is the same; you have to prepare in advance. On set you don’t have time.


When you do these challenging roles be it Margarita With A Straw or Made In Heaven what are you planning to achieve?


What am I going to achieve. I want to achieve good acting.. I’m trying to be as authentic as possible. For me, Margarita was as challenging for me as Thackeray for you because it was based on a true story and a real person with a real disability. You have to be so careful without copying and at the same time be authentic with the story. Margarita took a lot of time. Also, if you play a negative role, you want your audience to understand you. See Anthony Hopkins from Hannibal, he’s probably playing the worst person possible a serial killer. But you still want to watch him, you care enough to know why he is the way he is. That’s the trick to find something for which the audience will like you even if you are the worst person.

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