Being born to a family of farmers, Nawazuddin Siddiqui was in fact, far away from entering into cinemas. He is one of the eight children (six brothers and two sisters) in the family and life was never too easy for him.
Hailing from a small town of Budhana, Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, Nawazuddin Siddique always dreamt of becoming a hero to prove his friends wrong. In a village where education is difficult to get, he somehow did his graduation from a university in Haridwar and then went on to work as a chemist at a petrochemical company in Baroda.
As he was unable to cope with the job, he made up his mind to move to Delhi to work as a watchman at various places. At this time only, he kept on visiting theatres and plays and then started to take part in them. His knack of acting skills helped him to join the National School of Drama (NSD) and graduated from it in the year 1996.
Having obtained a relevant degree, he then moved to Mumbai to give the best shot in Bollywood, but sadly, he didn’t even have sufficient funds to pay rent. He was not the centre of attraction there as he walked from studio to studio, set to set doing only small cameos where he was just a part of a crowd. He once went up to NSD senior asking if he could stay at his place, who said ‘Yes’ to it under the condition that Nawaz cooked ‘twice a day’.
“During my initial years in Mumbai, once I ran out of money. I went to my friend to borrow a few hundreds of rupees. Sadly, he had no money on him either. With no food, no money- both of us started crying over our destiny”, said Siddiqui in a TV Interview
He showed up in the film where he made his debut with Aamir Khan’s Sarfarosh in 1999, where he played a terrorist. Then he played small roles over the next few years and his poverty still followed him around like a shadow during this time.
He also acted in television serials and a few short films but what turned out to be a big hit was Black Friday (2007) by Anurag Kashyap. Then he got his first ever major lead role, which was as a wedding singer in Patang, which made it to the Berlin International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. Needless to say, he got real recognition from the movie named Peepli Live, where he played the role of a journalist.
The turning point of his career was in 2012 where he acted in films like Kahaani and Gangs of Wasseypur, in what turned out to be blockbuster at the box office and that was when the people across the world got to identify the true potential of this Nawazuddin Siddiqui, whose story started as ordinary one only to turn into extraordinary. He went on to act in big movies like Talaash, Badlapur, Lunchbox, Kick, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Raees including the Oscar-nominated Lion.
In an interview with DNA India, he spoke about the reactions from his friends and relatives upon his success. He said, “It’s a sense of satisfaction because I proved all of them wrong. All of them said ‘kya hero banega (how will he become a hero)’ when I set out. When I go back now they say ‘isne toh karke dikhaya (he has done it)’. I made it possible.”
When asked if he ever thought of giving up, he says, “So many times I felt I was wasting my time because things were just not working out. But I couldn’t even go back. What would I do there? Spent all my life acting and I don’t know any other work. Also, I was afraid my friends would tease me. Arrey hero banne gaya tha, wapas laut aaya (he had gone to become an actor and has returned with nothing).”
Having set high standards for himself in the development stage, Nawazuddin Siddiqui changed his fate and achieved his dream. From starting his journey with small roles in films to carving out a reputation for himself as an extraordinary actor in Bollywood, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s story is really inspiring!