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Rags-to-Riches: Story of Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Guwahati: Writing about an impressive actor in Bollywood, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, must most profoundly include the story of how he has made it through the rags-to-riches journey.

On May 19, 1974, the actor was born in Budhana town in Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh. Coming from a family of farm-workers, Nawazuddin never gave up on dreaming big and extraordinary.

In an interview, the actor recalled his childhood with his siblings and said, “We never felt the need for friends as we were more than enough among ourselves. And I was always the ringleader when it came to playing pranks on others.”

Surviving in a village where education seemed like a lottery, the actor managed to complete his graduation from a university in Haridwar. Initially, he started working as a chemist, and then, unable to cope with his living, he shifted to Delhi.

Delhi was not easy as well. He has worked as a watchman at various places to keep living in the city of hustle. During his work as a watchman, he visited theaters and plays and began to engage in them. However, lack of money once again hit him back to get a chance into theaters initially.

He went on to join the National School of Drama (NSD) and graduated from it in 1996. However, life was not that simple for him, even after being a student of NSD. The factor behind all his hardship reflected rags and money.

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He also requested an NSD senior if he could stay at his place. The senior agreed to it under the condition that Nawaz cooked twice a day.

However, success comes to those who never give up. The actor grappled with small characters, despite being a National School of Drama graduate.

Initially, 1990 brought a ray of hope for Nawazuddin and his Bollywood story. He got his first proper role in Bollywood with a small role in the Aamir Khan starrer Sarfarosh.  Nawazuddin played the role of a terrorist in this film. 

He even played roles in television serials and short films, but poverty continued for him, and was still waiting for his big break.

Black Friday (2007) turned out to be a film for the actor, bringing good Fridays into his life. He got his big break in 2007 with Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday. His excellent performing skills gave him multiple movies after this film.

Nawazuddin got his first major lead role as a wedding singer in Patang. This movie also made it to the Berlin International Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. 

In the following years, Nawazuddin performed several characters in movies that were showcased in international festivals. Peepli Live and Patang were a few of his thriving movies. Peepli Live showcased his outstanding role as a journalist.

The climax of his life came with his striving roles in movies like Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Kahaani, and The Lunchbox (2013). These movies brought out the acting talent of Nawazuddin in the limelight. 

He then worked in big films like Talaash, Badlapur, Lunchbox, Kick, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Raees, and the Oscar-nominated Lion.

In an interview, he talked about the feedback from his colleagues and families upon his stardom. He stated, “It’s a feeling of relief because I proved all of them wrong. They all said ‘kya hero banega (how will he turn into a hero)’ when I set out of home. When I go back now they say ‘isne toh karke dikhaya (he has done it)’. I made it possible.”

At one point, everyone feels like giving up. When asked, the actor said, “So many times I felt I was wasting my time because things were just not working out. But I couldn’t even go back. What would I do there? Spent all my life acting and I don’t know any other work. Also, I was afraid my friends would tease me. Arrey hero banne gaya tha, wapas laut aaya (he had gone to become an actor and has returned with nothing).”

Today, the actor is internationally recognized for his influential screen appearance with his toughest role in movies. He has received several national and international honors for his work. Lately, the actor got nominated for International Emmy Awards 2021 under the “Best Actor” category for his film Serious Man. 

Nawazuddin‘s story of rags to riches showcases the struggle of every individual who still fights to get back, making his dreams come true. His struggle showed how people could snap off society and turn thorns into roses. 

Yet, this is not just the end of his journey. In a career crossing over two decades, Siddiqui has done more than 30 films. His journey in itself has been an inspiration, from a blink to headlines and grand appearances. The actor has a lot more to deliver in the coming years. 


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