It wasn’t too long ago that cinema purists bought tickets to watch Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan — but not for the lead actor but his supporting cast member Nawazuddin Siddique, who despite appearing only in the film’s second half, breathed life into the rather typical Bollywood film.
Cut to today and the actor, who was once a well-used resource by filmmakers, is closing in on a dozen films since the 2015 Salman-starrer; and will next be seen in Babumoshai Bandookbaaz that releases this weekend.
We’ve seen so much of him of late that one starts to question whether the actor still embodies the same appeal that drew fans of his nuanced acting to theatres some time back? Has this overdose worked in his favour? Or has Nawaz lost his charm?
Nawaz followed Bajrangi Bhaijaan with Ketan Mehta’s Manjhi in 2015. He was seen essaying the role of Dashrath Manjhi, a real-life hero from Bihar who actually took down a mountain single-handedly, in this biographical drama. The role felt right down his alley and he excelled in his archetypal north-Indian style despite the film’s overall substandard nature.
In terms of homework and research, the role fell in line with the likes of Gangs of Wasseypur and Kahaani. Even his Raman Raghav 2.0 character was cut out of a similar fabric and feels like it made him averse to getting in the skin of roles like his Gujarati self in Raees.
In 2016 then, Nawaz was seen in Freaky Ali that seems to have been aimed at strengthening his place as a mainstream Bollywood lead actor. But does it bode well on the guy who we have loved so much in his New York, Badlapur and even Haraamkhor avatars?
In a previous MW interview, he had confessed, “I still have confidence issues because my biggest competition is with myself. I have been fighting way too many factors for the last fifteen years. I am not tall enough, not fair enough, I don’t look good enough, I don’t speak in English at all… my fight is much bigger than everyone else’s.”
So then why does he seem to be trying so hard to fit into the exact same mould?
Cinema-goers want to see the actor, who recently revealed that he even worked as a security guard in Noida, in a different light than the Khan triumvirate but does he now want to cater to only these audiences?
With Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, we can only hope.