The backlash has begun! Trust Bollywood, and the film media, to put someone up on a pedestal first, only to knock him off it before he’s even had a chance to get comfortable there. It hasn’t been two full years since Nawazuddin Siddiqui became a household name through films like Kahaani and Gangs of Wasseypur, fast emerging the most promising actor in an industry that breeds more stars than real performers.
Already, Bollywood filmwalas have begun dissing the actor, insisting that he doesn’t deserve the Rs 1 crore-plus salary that he’s demanding per film. “Nobody goes in to see a film because his name is on the poster,” says a producer, requesting anonymity. “Sure he’s a good actor, but he can’t open a film. If you can’t bring an audience in, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you just cannot expect that kind of money.” As it turns out, this producer is only one of many in the film biz with the same opinion. Studios are reportedly complaining that Nawaz may have out-priced himself from the very kind of small-budget meaty projects that made him the art-house star that he is.
Last week, I saw a different side to the actor from the one industry bigwigs seem to be complaining about. Dressed simply in a pair of jeans and a collar T-shirt, sporting days-old face-fuzz, Nawaz boarded a flight from Mumbai to New York en route Salt Lake City in Utah, where two of his films are being screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Travelling with the team of Liar’s Dice, the only Indian film in competition at the festival, Nawaz sportingly flew Economy on the fifteen-and-a-half hour flight, and didn’t seem to mind being repeatedly woken up by over-eager passengers seeking to start off a conversation. Way too patient and accommodating for the too-big-for-his-boots upstart they’re calling him!
Smart Friendship Policy
Katrina Kaif—who chose the Hrithik Roshan starrer Bang Bang over her Mere Brother Ki Dulhan director Abbas Ali Zafar’s Gunday last year—showed up for Zafar’s birthday party last week, ending all speculation that their friendship had gone kaput since she ditched his movie.
At the time, Zafar reportedly felt betrayed by Katrina’s decision to choose the Hrithik vehicle over his movie, especially since she had verbally committed to doing it. Zafar had to go back to producer Aditya Chopra to help him land a new leading lady, and fortunately for him, Priyanka Chopra said ‘yes’.
Judging by the camaraderie they shared at the party, it does appear that Katrina and Zafar have mended their friendship, which apparently dates back to the time he was chief assistant to Kabir Khan on New York.
Perhaps, it helped that PC wasn’t at the party.
The Superstar Who Crossed a Red Line
He’s one of Bollywood’s biggest superstars, if not the biggest. He’s invited to inaugurate renovated hospitals, flag off rallies, endorse political parties, and shine some luck on new film entrants. But the one place that’s in no hurry to invite him back is his own alma mater.
Reportedly, the very mention of this A-lister in the staff room of his Bandra school draws an uncomfortable silence among senior faculty, particularly the management. The story goes that years ago when he was invited to address students and staff at a school event, the actor delivered an impromptu speech that didn’t feel right for the occasion. He spoke at length about his mischievous ways, how he played pranks on his professors, copied in his exams, and just about managed to graduate from school without flunking a year. That speech wasn’t the problem… some even thought it was heartfelt and honest. It was what he did after.
The Catholic school prides itself for instilling discipline in its students, which is why its management and faculty was nothing short of horrified when in his closing remarks, the by-now-emotionally-charged movie star ‘crossed the line’. Possibly carried away by the enthusiastic response from students to his unfiltered memories of school days, the actor ended his speech by saying he was very happy to be invited back to school: “So happy, in fact, that I declare tomorrow a holiday for everyone!”
Expectedly, the students were overjoyed, and before the principal could grab the mike out of the star’s hand to make light of—and nullify—the holiday declaration, the noise from all the cheering drowned out any chance he had to rectify the situation. And that’s why they won’t have the actor back… even if he is in fact the school’s most famous old boy.Ali Abbas Zafar Gossip Katrina Kaif Mere Brother Ki Dulhan Nawazuddin Siddiqui Rajeev Masand