Aseem Chhabra in New York
In a first, the Cannes International Film Festival will screen three films from India this year. And in another first, two of these films — Gangs of Wasseypur and Miss Lovely — star the very prolific independent film actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
That’s not all. Earlier this year Nawaz, as the actor is known among his friends and associates, received critical acclaim for his work in Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar (where he played a small supporting role). Now it seems we are entering the spring and summer of film festivals almost dedicated to Nawaz’s films.
Here is just a sampling of the festivals that are playing the actor’s recent works — most are awaiting release — Roger Ebert’s Film Festival or Ebertfest (Patang), the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (Chittagong, Patang, Dekh Indian Circus, Paan Singh Tomar, Black Friday) and the New York Indian Film Festival (Chittagong, Dekh Indian Circus, Gangs of Wasseypur).
By his own count he has completed ten films that should be released in the near future. The list includes director Reema Kagti’s Talaash, where Nawaz gets to act with Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor.
Right now the extremely talented 38-year-old is at the top of his game. What’s more, he’s even being hailed as the next Irrfan Khan owing to his impressive body of work and his growing acclaim.
Talaash should give him the mainstream exposure that until now he has received only with audience that support independent cinema.
But as the unassuming actor tells Aseem Chhabra in a telephonic interview from Mumbai, his working life has been defined by years of struggles and rejections from an industry that values appearance and other superficial elements in stars over solid talent.