An Idiot's Tale

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An Idiot's Tale

Cacography of a madcap story teller, JAYEETA GHORAI

My second film review, posted in Mirrorfect on 23rd February 2014, was on Nawazuddin Siddiqui and three of his short films. To avoid SEO clashes, I couldn’t put up the entire article here. To read the whole one would have to go to the magazine’s main site. Short films do not gain much publicity, often due to their extremely limited production budget. Neither are they very popular in India outside of the academic circuit or the small crowd of insane viewers, like me, who determinedly hunt down all kinds of visual media. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has rapidly become one of the actors I look out for and even in short screen presences, he shows his mettle.

Here’s an excerpt from the review, The Quintessential Actor: Nawazuddin Siddiqui:

Nawazuddin Siddiqui blazed into the national awareness with Kahaani. Despite being in the business for more than a decade, it was only in 2012 that the audience began to take notice.

It shouldn’t have been hard, noticing him. Or, perhaps the very reasons why he should have been, was the cause why he was not. As his character, Shaikh says in The Lunchbox,”…kala kaluta haye…” Do not, the adage says, judge a book by its cover, perhaps only to signpost how frequently we do.

Remember Lux soaps? And the beauty bevy from Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan included, who’d have the world believe it takes a certain kind of made-up look and skin tone to adorn the screen?

Divisimo – star power – is the most visible marker of the film industry. Stars of mainstream Indian cinema are deified, literally, with temples in their name. Stars sell duds, how many examples need be provided? Having a chocolate boy face definitely helps pave the path.

But with outliers like Siddiqui comes proof at hand that directors are the real industry stalwarts. Creative genius lies in identifying a performer’s potential, casting a virtual who-are-you-again-? in pivotal roles and watching a deserving career take off. Sujoy Ghosh (Kahaani) and Anurag Kashyap (Black Friday, Gangs of Wasseypur) recognised a long ignored gem.

Once in, it is talent that would ensure longevity and Nawazuddin Siddiqui has shown staying power. Sheer talent that erupts on screen every time he fills a frame. Talent that should have been allowed to delight audiences earlier. I read through the list of ‘side roles’ he had played in well-noted films before 2012, incredulous that I too was guilty of having missed or shamefully forgotten seeing him.

Reality bites. Nobody pays attention to bit parts; ‘junior artists’, ‘extras’ call them whatever fancy name, they rarely merit attention. Siddiqui’s plight reminded me of Satyajit Ray’s short story, Patalbabu Filmstar, Chinu Nandi in Mithun starrer Bengali film Sukna Lanka and Om Prakash Makhija from another disparate example, Farah Khan’s lampoon, Om Shanti Om. Each highlight the bit actor, his effort to be honest to roles and how, despite big dreams and no dearth of sincerity, he remains overlooked... READ MORE

All the films can be found on youtube. (I accept no responsibility for the content of external sites,nor claim any ownership over them.) The Bypass (2003) is here; Salt N Pepper (2007) is here; and, OP, Stop Smelling UR Socks (2010) is here.




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