National Award-winning actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who essays Bal Thackeray in a film titled Thackeray, says the anger and arrogance of the late Shiv Sena supremo was justified when Maharashtra was going through a bad phase.
On his understanding of Thackeray's character, Nawazuddin told IANS here: "I think all his anger and arrogance was justified considering the situation that the society went through during that time. There was a time in Maharashtra when all the mills were shut down and the youth there suddenly faced unemployment.
"Hundreds of mill workers were unemployed. They did not know any other work... For years, they worked with dedication and suddenly those mills were shut overnight and poor, working class Marathi people were on the road. They were innocents who suffered... Creating jobs was the responsibility of the government and that did not happen.
"It was the same time when other communities started flourishing... So, Thackeray took the initiative to give these 'Marathi manoos' a direction to live dignified lives. That is how he gained the support and respect of the people."
The film Thackeray, directed by Abhijit Panse and written by Sanjay Raut, also features Amrita Rao and Sudhir Mishra among others.
Nawazuddin himself comes from a small town of Bihar.
It was after a struggle period of 20 years that he managed to carve a niche in the Indian film industry with some acclaimed films like Black Friday, Dekh Indian Circus, Gangs of Wasseypur, The Lunchbox, Badlapur, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Raman Raghav 2.0, Raees and Manto.
While his appearance as an ordinary man and dark complexion troubled him at the beginning of his career and made him face a series of rejections from several filmmakers, the actor is now embraced by the audience and film fraternity alike. And that has made many struggling actors hopeful of making it to the limelight.
Does he find a common point between Thackeray and himself as both appeared as a ray of hope -- whether it was for the Marathi people or struggling actors?
"I did not think and analyse that way at all... I just focused on my work. Maseeha banne ka koi irada nahi tha hume toh (I did not want to be a Messiah)... I wanted to act. Whether it was my theatre days, street plays or giving auditions in various places to bag one role, I wanted to act.
"I perhaps wasn't the most talented young actor back then, but all I had was a passion for performance. That passion went into madness, so much so that I did not even think if I should leave my dream to become an actor and look out for something else... I just wanted to act.
"If you have so much madness knowing that you are just one opportunity away, just like me, you can achieve your dream... look at me, I did," said the actor whose film "Photograph" will be screened at the prestigious Sundance Film festival this year.
Asked if somewhere he brought his own ideology on the table to feel connected with Thackeray's thoughts, Nawazuddin said: "How can I bring my ideology as a performer when I am narrating someone else on-screen? That is why I do not have any ideology and philosophy as an individual.
"See, I have played Manto (writer Saadat Hasan Manto) saab, I played Bal Thackeray and I am the same actor who plays Gaitonde (Ganesh Gaitonde in 'Sacred Games'). I do not think I could justify these characters as an actor if I would have limited and controlled me with one specific ideology."
But Nawazuddin is an individual as well, isn't he?
"Yes, but I am empty... That is why I can easily adapt and portray the ideology of different people. I live through the ideology of my characters that I play in films. Perhaps that is why when the light goes off, the shooting of a film gets over, I feel upset for some time to leave the character from my mind."
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