In an actor's career, be it a star kid or not, there comes one movie, that turns out to be a star-making turn for that person. It could be that actor's debut movie or that film could arrive after years of struggle. For Nawazuddin Siddiqui, considered as one of the finest actors of our generation, that movie was Kahaani in 2012. Gangs of Wasseypur series might have established him as a bonafide star, but it was the Sujoy Ghosh thriller that brought the mainstream spotlight on Nawaz. As the acerbic IB Officer Khan, Siddiqui stole every scene he is in with his sarcasm and droll humour. Housefull 4: Nawazuddin Siddiqui to Essay the Role of an Exorcist in Akshay Kumar Starrer?
The sad part is that it took 13 years for Bollywood and its audiences to sit up and notice this bundle of histrionics. Before that, Nawaz, who began his acting career in the 1999 film Sarfarosh, has built his career with bit roles and supporting characters. Many Bollywood fans were surprised when they realised that Nawaz had been a part of biggies like Munnabhai MBBS, Black Friday, Aaja Nachle etc.
Now that we are familiar with his early body of work, it is time to pick out some underrated gems from there. On the occasion of Nawazuddin Siddiqui's 45th birthday, we pick our favourite performances of the actor before his pre-Kahaani fame!
Manorama Six Feet Under
This underrated thriller, starring Abhay Deol, Gul Panag and Raima Sen, was a remake of the Hollywood classic Chinatown. Nawazuddin appears in a single scene in the movie, reprising the vicious character that director Martin Scorsese played in the original. Needless to say, Nawaz himself delivers the same amount of intense evilness as the assassin.
This movie marked the first collaboration of Nawazuddin and director Anurag Kashyap. Black Friday is a masterpiece and what sets the ball rolling is the terrific interrogation scene at the start between DCP Rakesh Maria (a brilliant Kay Kay Menon) and small-time ruffian Gul Mohammed. Nawaz, who plays the latter, might have a small role in the film, but he sells every minute he is on the screen!
In 2018, Nawazuddin Siddiqui delivered perhaps the best performance of his career in Nandita Das' Manto. But before that, not many know that Nawaz also had an integral role in her debut directorial, based on the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat Riots. He played a Muslim man, who returns home after the riots only to find his home. His anguish at the Hindu rioters makes him join a few Muslim conspirators only to have a tragic conclusion for himself.
This could be Nawazuddin's most heart-rending performance pre-Kahaani. Two of the best scenes in this Kabir Khan terrorism drama belong to Nawaz's character. The first had him recall his horrifying ordeal with the US police after 26/7 attacks on camera. It is the most touching scene in the film, and how Nawazuddin has enacted the scene will leave you moist eyes. Another scene has him watch helplessly as the police frisk Katrina Kaif's character roughly.
This Aamir Khan production is a highly engaging satire on farmer suicides and media's desperate obsession with breaking news. The latter is represented by Nawazuddin's local reporter who hounds the protagonist's family and later develops a conscientious attitude towards them. Only that, things really don't go well for him!