Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the lead role in Bal Thackeray’s biopic raised quite a few eyebrows, but the actor says he is comfortable headlining the film despite the late politician’s party Shiv Sena’s much publicised anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant stands.
Nawazuddin, in fact, finds it appreciable on the part of Shiv Sena that it considered him to play Thackeray.
“More than myself, I appreciate Shiv Sena that they approached me for the role. That’s a huge thing. I am just an actor. I will anyway sit down with my director to come up with the best outcome but it is a huge deal that these people thought of me in the first place,” he said.
In October 2016, Nawazuddin had to pull out of a Ramleela performance in Budhana, Uttar Pradesh after reportedly members of the local unit of the Shiv Sena raised objections.
A report in the Hindustan Times had then quoted the Shiv Sena district head Mukesh Sharma as saying, “For over 50 years, no Muslim has been a part of the production. Why should this be allowed now? We went to the police and our members went around town to spread the word and urge people to stop this.”
In an interview to indianexpress.com, Nawazuddin said that media reported wrongly and it wasn’t Shiv Sena that raised an objection to him performing the Ram Leela.
“No, that was created by media that he was from Shiv Sena. We decided to step back because there was a guy, who said he won’t let it happen. So, we thought we would do it next year. But he wasn’t from Shiv Sena. Tomorrow anyone can come up and claim he was from Shiv Sena!”
When asked the irony behind Shiv Sena approaching him to play its founder, the actor said the party should be praised for its decision.
“That’s why I said they should be appreciated. I was surprised by the fact the role was of Bal Thackeray. An actor wants his or her character to be as interesting and challenging as it can be. I was happy because I was getting a chance to play a personality like Bal Thackeray. I don’t think there’s any actor, be from India or the world, who will leave this role. He was such an interesting personality.”
When further asked if collaborating with Shiv Sena on the biopic is going to be a comfortable ride for him, the actor said at the end of the day, he is an actor and the fact that he is going to play a man, who had no hypocrisy.
“Sanjay Raut has written such a fantastic script. If you read it, you will know that it is such a well-written script. So, I have got a challenging role to play. He was the same person for the outside world and within. There was no hypocrisy. I am getting to play such a character, what else do I want? I am just an actor,” Nawazuddin said.
The film is being produced by Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena MP.