Two days ago the online film magazine Film Companion posted a  story on how the much respected Gulaal actor, Savi Siddhu was working as a watchman in a housing society and that his pay was so meagre that it didn’t even allow him to watch a movie. Siddhu’s first film role was in the Anurag Kashyap directed Paanch which was eventually shelved. He then played a pivotal role in Kashyap’s 2004 film Black Friday following which he starred in Nikkhil Advani’s Patiala House.

“I am highly influenced by Amit ji and Dharam ji. But people told me that I will have to make my own identity. Isliye fir bhoot utar gaya. Now, I am working as a watchman at a building in Malad with a hope that my bank balance will increase and they (filmmakers) will give me a chance. I know they will not say no. I have always received a positive response from them. They are waiting for me, mai aa raha hoon,” Savi had said in a video by Film Companion.

 

A day after the report was published, in a series of tweets, Anurag Kashyap used the Siddhu video to throw light on the life of actors on the margins of Bollywood. “There are so many actors out there who don’t have work. I respect Savi Siddhu as an actor and have cast him thrice when he earned the role. I respect him that he chose to live his life with dignity and picked a job unlike so many entitled out of work actors who have either become alcoholics or wasted themselves away,” he wrote on the micro-blogging site.

“Nawaz used to be a watchman, I used to be a waiter, I met one actor who sells bhelpuri on streets, I know and actor from Black Friday who drives a rickshaw,” he added referring to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and then spoke about similar troubles Uday Chandra (who worked on Hum Paanch and Khel Khiladi Ka) had to go through. He also revealed that he has known writers who always borrow money and filmmakers to whom he’s loaned money for a meal.

A still from the Film Companion video showing Siddhu in his uniform.

However, he said he was against granting any actor a role out of sympathy which he felt would be an insult to the person and the craft. “Savi will have to help himself. Only thing one can do is get the casting directors to audition him for him to earn the role and for that he will have to walk to that casting director’s office like million others (sic),” he said, adding: “And I genuinely believe that charity does not make art or an artist. There are millions of stories like Savi Siddhu’s.”

Actor Rajkummar Rao though had a different take on this. While commending the Gulaal actor’s perseverance, he said that he’d ask his casting friends to help him.

A Chandigarh boy, Siddhu dabbled in theatre and modelling before becoming an actor. He also stated that he never had any problems getting work but couldn’t take up any projects due to health concerns. In the video, he also tears up when he speaks about how his health issues and financial problems were aggravated by the fact that he lost around eight to nine family members in a short time. Still, he is hopeful that his financial status will improve and he’ll be able to go and meet directors and producers again.

“It is a 12-hour tough job. It’s a mechanical job. I don’t even have money to buy bus tickets. To watch a film in the theatre is like a dream now. My financial condition is not good,” he says.

(Header credits: Wikimedia Commons/A still from Black Friday)