In June 2012, Gangs of Wasseypur-I had hit the theatres, which had made Indian audiences recognize Nawazuddin Siddiqui as an excellent actor. Later in the month of August, the second installment of modern classic had released in which the man had ruled the show and to some filmgoers, it seemed more like an overnight success. However, after graduating from his alma mater National School of Drama, it had taken him more than 10 years in the industry to get a role with adequate screen-time in which he can properly showcase his acting talent.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s initial appearances in Hindi Films are nothing but an epiphanic display of acting brilliance. Either it’s about playing an interrogated terrorist in Sarfarosh or a seemingly penniless pickpocket in Munna Bhai M.B.B.S or a perpetually pensive Zilgai in New York, the actor has nailed each performance no matter how small the role was. Gradually, he started getting roles in the industry. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has now established himself as one of the finest actors in Hindi Film Industry.
Here’s the list of best performances by Nawazuddin Siddiqui –
1. Black Friday  –
Black Friday was the first film in which Nawazuddin got notable screen-time. In this film by Anurag Kashyap, he played the role of Azgar Mukadam who is Tiger Memon’s manager. The character also happens to be the one who becomes the first one to be convicted for Bombay Bombings. His acting prowess and impeccable dialogue delivery are quite palpable in the scenes wherein the Bombay Police interrogates him for the information regarding the blasts. He beautifully portrayed the emotions of reluctance and fear at the same time.
2. Firaaq  –
In Nandita Das’ film Firaaq, Nawaz played the role of a middle-class Muslim man named Hanif, who has a whim for vengeance for his destroyed and burnt house. To play a role of a bourgeois guy who wants to take revenge because he has been a victim is a tricky task because the actor would need to portray myriad of emotions to depict his anger and hatred but not without the indulgence of misery and distress. Nawaz pulled the character with ease.
3. New York  –
Once again playing a victim, this time as the post 9/11 Muslim residing in the U.S.A, Nawaz had a very short role to play in Kabir Khan’s New York. But in his merely 10 minutes of screen-time, Nawaz could display his sheer acting brilliance in a scene which portrayed the character’s melancholic misery.
4. Peepli Live  –
He played the role of a TV reporter in this Indian critical comedy film directed by Anusha Rizwi. Nawaz has played the character really well as he had displayed every quality of a reporter, right from socialization, cultural adaptation, to curiosity. With this role, Nawaz came into limelight as he also received a lot of appreciation from critics.
5. Kahaani  –
In this directorial venture of Sujoy Ghosh, Nawaz played the role of a no-nonsense IB officer, A. Khan. It’s not like the character was unique and nobody had ever played such a character before, but what sets Nawazuddin Siddiqui apart from others is that he was able to portray the nonchalance of the character with sporadic anger. Moreover, the wiliness of the character terrifically blends with temperamental quirk. The role got enormous recognition from the fans.
6. GOW I & II  –
This was the first time Nawazuddin Siddiqui had got ample amount of screen-time in a film, and he used the opportunity comprehensively. In the first installment of GOW, he stole the show in the second half only to rule to the second one. Nawaz as Faizal Khan has become an iconic character when it comes to Indian Cult.
The best part about the role was how Nawaz handled the character transformation and still managed to keep that innocence of the character intact even when he becomes a big name in Wasseypur mafia, and it is quite evident in the sequences of events when he keeps trusting on wrong men, and there is a scene in which he cries his heart out which shows the repent of the character. Portraying a gangster who is on a seemingly perennial journey of vengeance, it was also difficult to consistently display such deep-rooted qualities of the character to maintain a sense of coherency. It takes a great actor to make such an arduous task look so easy.
7. Talaash: The Answer Lies Within  –
It’s always difficult to star as a sidekick in the film that has an incredible actor like Aamir Khan who also happens to be a superstar, and still, make a mark in the film. In this film directed by Reema Kagti, Nawaz played the role of a pimp named Tehmur. Playing a differently abled character is always a difficult role to execute because an actor is always susceptible of committing the cardinal sin of mocking the disability. However, Nawaz played the character with perfection.
8. Miss Lovely  –
In this Ashim Ahluwalia’s film based on Mumbai’s C-Grade industry, Nawazuddin Siddiqui played the role of a youth who has embarked on a journey of self-destruction. For his role in Miss Lovely as Sonu Duggal, Nawaz also received a lot of praises from critics at Cannes Film Festival and from James Watkins, with whom he is working on McMafia, a crime drama miniseries.
9. Bombay Talkies  –
This was an anthology film which was released on the centenary of Indian cinema. There were four short films in it by four different directors. Nawaz appeared in the one which was directed by Dibakar Banerjee. This role seems more like his biographical portrayal. He plays a jobless man who is struggling to make the ends meet. While on a film’s set, he manages to get a two-minute role in a film. Everyone including critics lauded Nawaz’s performance. The role also seemed to have been essayed earnestly and right from the heart.
10. The Lunchbox  –
After watching Nawaz as a victim, gangster, self-destructive youth or a stringent IB officer; it was refreshing to watch as a subdued yet happy go lucky kind of character. In Ritesh Batra’s Mumbai bourgeois emblematic film, The Lunchbox, Nawaz plays a novice banker who gets a new job under a veteran who is about to retire. He terrifically displayed the inner conflict and plight of the character with sheer innocence. According to an interview with Anupama Chopra at Film Companion, he has emulated his friend’s attributes in this character.
11. Badlapur  –
It always looked easy to outshine an actor like Varun Dhawan, but not at the cost of the fact that Varun also gave an extraordinary performance and the film was all about his revenge story. However, Nawaz owned the show by playing ‘Liak’ in this Sriram Raghavan’s film. What’s interesting about Nawaz’s character in this film is it also has layers. He has committed a crime, but on the contrary, he portrays himself as someone who is not a habitual criminal and evidently so, when he pleads forgiveness for the mistake from Varun’s character. Nawaz also brilliantly displayed the contrast in the character wonderfully.
12. Manjhi – The Mountain Man  –
Nawaz dispels all the doubts on his acting caliber in this Indian biographical film by Ketan Mehta. It’s always tough to play real-life characters as an actor needs the right skills to completely adopt the mannerisms of the person. However, Nawaz played the title role exceptionally well and touched hearts with his emotions inducing act.
13. Raman Raghav 2.0  –
This is perhaps the best and the most difficult role played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. In this film by Anurag Kashyap, he plays the role of a psycho-killer who has a very different worldview than a normal human being. He also had to portray everything that was against the social norms. Nawaz got into the skin of the character and also successfully depicted that cold-blooded attitude of a psycho-killer, who has a tangible justification behind every murder. Nawaz is reported to have been hospitalized after the shooting was wrapped up because he couldn’t get back to normal life after playing the character of Ramanna – again a real-life serial killer, who operated in Mumbai during the mid-60s.
14. Mom  –
In this Sridevi’s last film before her demise which was directed by Ravi Udyawar, Nawaz plays a supporting cast as Daya Shankar “DK” Kapoor. The role required him to incessantly adapt different shades. In a way, the character seems like someone who is law-fearing. On the other hand, he always knows how to retain his composure. Nawazuddin has a thorough understanding of the character and it’s quite evident in the scene, wherein Akshaye Khanna interrogates him.
15. Babumoshai Bandookbaaz  –
Nawaz gets into the skin of an overtly filthy and ferocious local hit-man in this film directed by Kushan Nandy. The attributes of the role also seem to have roots in Gangs of Wasseypur’s ‘Faizal Khan’. With the lack of good script, Nawazuddin Siddiqui somehow runs the show solely on his onus.
In his career spanning over 20 years now, Nawazuddin Siddiqui has played varied and challenging characters. He has emerged out as a method actor. With contemporaries like phenomenal veteran Irrfan Khan and also the reigning Rajkumar Rao in his niche, Nawaz has established himself as someone who doesn’t need to be tagged as the “best actor”; but the one who can play a role in such a way that it becomes impossible to imagine any other actor playing the character, and that’s his triumph as an actor.
The actor will be seen playing Bal Thackeray in the biographical drama ‘Thackeray’ in which he looks promising. The film is expected to hit the box office in January 2019.