Today’s content-driven films work because they use songs and comedy: Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui on his hits and misses, admiration for Ritesh Batra’s minimalism and today’s content-driven films.
Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui seems to be a man of extremes. While he has strong opinions about his craft, the actor struggles to hold a conversation about anything beyond movies. Nawazuddin is also a man of sincerity because when he says, “There’s nothing on my mind other than acting,” you believe it.

Ahead of the release of Photograph, the actor sat down with to reflect on his hits and misses in Bollywood, his admiration for Ritesh Batra’s minimalism and what makes him the happiest about Thackeray’s success.

Sanya Malhotra told me in an earlier interview that a Ritesh Batra set is meditative because it is quiet and serene. How would you describe it?

Sanya is right. There is a lot of silence on his set, and that is why it shows in performances. Mostly, film sets are dominated by chaos and you have to give your best in those situations. Even if someone’s concentration is disturbed, no one pays attention to it.Not at all. No one enjoys chaos, but that is how the environment has become. We have also become habitual to that. Now, when there is no noise on a set, we wonder if everything is alright. (laughs)

Photograph is your latest work to tour international film festivals. So, do these coveted platforms make you feel at home?There are many directors and actors who I bump into at these international film festivals. Sometimes at Sundance, sometimes at Cannes. So, we keep bonding and then part ways and again meet. This goes on. The good part is because of these films I get to learn about world cinema.

Sanya Malhotra received immense praise at the Berlin Film Festival, which is huge for a two-film-old actor. What was it like to share screen space with Sanya?There is so much maturity in her that I didn’t even realise this was her second film. She is a gifted actor. Besides that, I was amazed by her professionalism. Adjusting to Ritesh’s process, maintaining a calm and professional attitude between shots is something she knows very well.

What I really like about him is that he changes his process and approach towards his actors with every film. His way of getting work done from his actors was completely different in Photograph and Lunchbox. The best thing about working with him in Photograph was he did not try to make us act. He, in fact, pressured us to not to act. Like it happens in other films, the director says, ‘Action,’ and you start acting, it wasn’t like that here.