What a birthday present Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s wife has given him. As the celebrated actor turned 46 on May 19 his wife sent him a legal notice seeking a divorce , maintenance and their children’s custody. Nawaz, I am sure, won’t fight her out in court. I hope he doesn’t. It’s time he owns up to the mistakes he has made, thanks to some of close relatives and ill advisers who poisoned his mind against his well-wishers, me included.
Nawaz and I are back on an even footing. But it seems it’s too late for him to mend all his bridges.
I have seen him grow. And I have seen him change. Nawazuddin Siddiqui was a very simple smalltown boy with a passion for one thing only. It was in the June of 2009 that I discovered the talent of Nawaz. I still remember being jolted by his monologue about Islamic isolation in Kabir Khan’s New York. I had never seen anything so raw, wounded and hurting.
I asked my daughter sitting next to me in the theatre (that’s where we watched film once upon a time) if this was a real victim of terrorism-phobia that had gripped the world, spilling his seething hurt into the camera. She said he was an actor and done some television.
This was not enough.
I thought Nawaz was sensational. I sought him out. Got his number from Kabir Khan, interviewed him. Every conversation thereafter he would remind me of how big a hand I played in his belated success.
But an element of artifice and deceit began to eat into Nawaz’s personality. He was still warm and very respectful. But the effort to sound humble began to show. I could tell this was not the simple actor from the hills who only wanted to act. This was an actor who had tasted success and now craved to be another Shah Rukh Khan.
The image of the humble passionate actor took a serious beating when Nawaz was wrongly advised to write his kiss-and-tell memoir. The fake repugnant Don Juan tone used to describe his alleged encounters with various ladies was completely in keeping with his new personality of an actor who was rapidly losing hold of his human-core.
There came a point when I didn’t know who this man posing at Cannes and bragging about his performance being compared with legends of the world cinema was.
It was embarrassing to see Nawaz celebrate his own alleged greatness. Happily, the process of healing has begun. Nawaz has been using the lockdown period to re-evaluate re-process and re-boot his lives. We’ve been talking about world cinema and how inadequate we are in comparison. Nawaz is a hungry actor once again.
I can’t blame him alone for the change in him. It is the people he surrounded himself with. The limelight moths who gathered around him creating a delusional cordon shutting him out from the light of reality. These sycophants and opportunists were pumping Nawaz up with myths of his own greatness. They jumped to his defense and sent nasty rebukes and messages every time there was criticism of Nawaz.
I have seen actors bigger than Nawaz turn into slaves of their own reputation. It is not too late for Nawaz. He only needs to get rid of the hangers-on who have convinced him that he can be another superstar like Salman Khan. Nawaz has strayed far away from his roots. It won’t be hard for him to retrace his steps and find the centre of his creative universe.
But he can do it. It is not too late for Nawazuddin Siddiqui to return home.