For Sridevi, a mother of two daughters, Mom was a story she could relate to. With the movie, Akshaye Khanna returns to acting after a hiatus, and he talks about how hard it was for him to stay away from work due to personal reasons. Nawazuddin Siddiqui speaks about his grey role in the movie and why he doesn’t want to do clichéd romantic roles. In conversation with Shama Bhagat. Excerpts:
‘I Want to Do Roles That Suit My Age’
Why did you do Mom? Was the topic close to your heart?
I loved the script. It’s the story of a mother and her daughter. I immediately said yes to the script. I want to do something I can relate to. I’ve done roles like Hawa Hawaii, now I want to do roles that suit my age.
Nawazuddin is a method actor while you and Akshaye Khanna are spontaneous.
I never knew he was a method actor, I found him very spontaneous. My father often said empty vessels make more sound. Nawaz is like a full vessel, which never makes a sound. Nawaz is quiet and patient on the sets, but when he’s in front of the camera, he is very different.
You didn’t have facilities like a vanity van earlier. How did you manage?
We’d change behind trees. Sometimes we’d change in strangers’ houses or huts. I was the first actress to use a vanity van. One van was circulated everywhere. The assistant director would draw each scene, whether my hand was on my head or my shoulder. They’d write dialogues on sets. Now it’s more professional and systematic.
How’s your relationship with your daughters?
I’ve taught them traditions and values that my mother imparted to me. Times have changed, but my children understand the importance of values and traditions.
Jahnavi is debuting with a Karan Johar film. Why didn’t you launch her with the home banner?
We never knew she was interested in movies. Boney and I tried to discourage her, but she wants to do films. She should get married and be happy, but that’s the profession that she has chosen. Let her try her luck.
When did you first face the camera?
I gave my first shot at the age of four. I didn’t know what was going on. I was playing Lord Krishna as a baby.
‘There’s No Scope for Mediocrity Today’
Why did you take up Mom?
It’s a whole package with an amazing script. It’s a beautifully told story. People will emotionally connect to it.
Apart from Dishoom (2016), you haven’t done many films recently.
I had personal issues that didn’t allow me to work. It’s very difficult and depressing to stay away from work. Given a chance I would love to work every day. Everyone has to face success and failure, but you have to learn to take the good with the bad. The moment you become serious, that’s the end of the beginning.
Your contemporaries have been more successful than you.
Those were my choices. Every actor has his own career graph. Some are much more successful and less successful. It’s the life of an artiste. What’s also important is longevity, which is given to a handful of actors.
What do you think about the younger actors?
If you want to be an actor today, there’s no scope for mediocrity.
You can’t be an uncut diamond, you have to be a polished diamond. The learning curve given to actors of my generation doesn’t exist today.
How do you look back on your journey?
It’s been a great journey. The entire experience has been wonderful, I feel blessed. How many people get the opportunity to be an actor? Every year you probably get just one new face. I’m planning to do more work now.
You are very fit.
I eat well, stick to my routine, I swim and play squash. I want to kick
the butt, but haven’t been able to.
I play a cop in a Yash Raj Films’ remake of the 1969 hit Ittefaq.
‘I Love Characters with Grey Shades’
How was it working with Sridevi?
She has a lot of patience and passion for cinema. Her sense of humour is great. She gets totally into her character. She doesn’t take things for granted.
Your role in Mom?
It’s a thriller, an emotional story of a mom and her daughter. I play Daya Shankar Kapoor, who manages everything in any situation. He has grey shades.
You do a lot of roles with grey shades.
I want to do roles that engage me completely. I love characters with grey shades. Most of our films have a villain and a hero, I don’t want to do such clichéd roles.
We’ll see you dancing in Munna Michael.
I’ve never danced in life or for a role. They forced me to, and when I did it, I enjoyed it a lot.
Will we ever see you in a formula movie?
Who’ll give me a larger-than-life character? You can watch such heroism only in films like Baahubali. They have large budgets. Who’ll spend that much on me?
What are your limitations as an actor?
I push myself to any lengths. If there are limitations in a role, I
try to break them. Like the dance character in
How do you look at stardom?
I never expected it. But all my hard work and honesty has finally paid off, though it arrived a little late in life.
Do you mull over your characters?
It depends on the role. When I heard about Saadat Hasan Manto, I lived the character for six months. Many roles stayed with me for a long time—Raman Raghav 2.0, Manjhi: The Mountain Man, Gangs of Wasseypur. They affected me because they were intense characters.