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Nandita Das's research for Manto was impeccable: Nawazuddin Siddiqui

In the French Riviera to present Manto in the Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard section, Siddiqui spoke about his director, and cleared that he will no longer take up cameos.


Starting with small roles, Nawazuddin Siddiqui has clearly proved his versatility and the ability to hold films on his own.

In the French Riviera for his film, Manto, which featured in the Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard section, Siddiqui was all praise for director Nandita Das' "impeccable research".

"See when Nandita told me that the film is just not the stories of Manto but his life as well, I was hooked to it.

"Manto's life in itself is very interesting. This was perhaps four years back and we tried all these years to make the concept that she was building come true. I just understood that this character will let me achieve a lot and will take away a lot of things that I always wanted to give as an actor.

"Nandita's research was impeccable. It was a pleasure working with her," he said.

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The actor, who will soon be seen playing late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, says he is done with cameos.

"No, I will not do it anymore (laughs). It's as simple as that, why will I do them? I am done with my quota of small roles," he said.

The actor is also venturing into production, taking on projects such as Manto as a co-producer.

"There are some upcoming films that I am co-producing as well. My brother is very much into this, doing the scouting for me. I definitely want to produce films as well," he said.

He rules out exploring foreign shores for roles, saying he is content with India and the diversity of roles he is getting to do.

"For the time being, I am satisfied that all my directors in India are giving me characters that are pretty challenging and I am happy doing those.

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"Just for the sake of a branding that I am an international star, I would not do that. How many films in the world are like Manto? Very few. So, I have no such predetermined affiliation for international projects. I am proud of Nandita and a film like this is no way less than any international film."

On him getting typecast, Siddiqui said, "I think it's completely a wrong conception. If I am doing (playing) Bal Thackeray and Manto at the same time, how can one say that I am typecast? The Bollywood [Hindi film] heroes are typecast, they do the same thing all their lives and they are never asked these questions.

"Now the films made in India are allowing actors like us to step in the shoes of lead characters and that makes us versatile. So, those who are still doing this [stretches his hand] are typecast, not me," he said.

Speaking of the response that Manto recieved at Cannes, the actor said the film clearly touched a chord with the audience.

"I have seen people crying in the audience, there were people who came out with a very satisfied face. And the best part was I think the film has tried to hit the conscience of people very hard. There were many who came up to me and said that the film was very well timed," Siddiqui said.

On his own preparation for the role, Siddiqui said he had already read Manto's stories and had also enacted one of them, which made it easier for him to cast himself in the role.

"I am not a writer, so I can only behave like a writer...It's not possible to be a writer. What I could do was create an impression of a writer on-screen. I have tried to do that. I have always tried to portray the ground reality of a character whenever I acted.

"Manto's writing in itself is depiction of truth in every form and Nandita has always told us to exercise that in our performances. Not only had I, but each one of us tried not to be a cliche when portraying our parts in the film," he added.

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