We all love reading inspiring rags-to-riches stories of famous people around us. It helps us in believing that nothing is impossible. Getting inspired by these stories, we give ourselves hopes that even if we have nothing now, we can achieve anything! But the most important thing that we seldom forget is the necessity of determination. Truth is we cannot achieve anything if we are not ready to give it our hundred percent.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s story is truly dramatic. Everything in his life seems straight out of a movie script, whether it's his birthplace or his job or his first romantic relationship. But what is most inspirational about him is all the efforts he made to achieve what he wants despite all the hardships he went through.
"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." - Christopher Reeve
Early Life of the Bollywood gangster
Siddiqui was born on 19 May 1974 in Budhana, a small town, and a tehsil in Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh, into a zamindari Muslim family of Numberdars. He is the eldest of his eight siblings.
The society used to demoralizes Nawaz by analyzing his dreams as something higher than what his family could afford and, he often faced such nay-sayers by replying,”karke dikhaunga” (I’ll do it and show it to you). But the thoughts of villagers weren’t the only issues. The entire village knew about only three things- wheat, sugarcane, and guns. The presence of guns in the vicinity of a family raises the question about their security, so they had to look for a place that could offer them a better livelihood.
Nawazuddin graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar. Following this, he worked as a chemist in Vadodara for a year, but, unfortunately, doesn't cope well with the work. So he left for Noida and got a job of a watchman at a toy shop, however, he got fired. Then he moved to Delhi where he became fascinated by acting after watching a play. And in no time he also started participating in various theatres!! In pursuit of securing admission at the National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi, he acted in over ten plays with a group of friends to fulfill one of the criteria for admission.
The beginning of his career
Nawazuddin spent a great time at the NSD where he learned a lot of new things, portrayed his skills at the various competitions and won a lot of them.
In 1996, having acquired a relevant degree, just like all the other aspiring actors, he moved to Mumbai to try his luck in Bollywood, but he didn’t have enough money to pay the rent. He walked from studio to studio, set to set, all day, finding himself doing only insignificant roles or the ones where he was just a part of a crowd. After moving to Mumbai, he even tried to get work in the television industry but did not achieve much success. But he never gave up on his dream as he thought it was at least better than farming back home.
Siddiqui made his Bollywood debut in 1999, with a small role in the Aamir Khan starrer Sarfarosh. He then appeared in Ram Gopal Varma's School (1999), Jungle (2000); and Rajkumar Hirani's Munnabhai MBBS (2003). He did a short film, The Bypass in 2003, in which he appeared with Irrfan Khan.
“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”
Sadly, between 2002 and 2005, he was extensively out of work, lived in a flat which he shared with four others and earned his living by conducting occasional acting workshops. In 2004, which was one of the worst years of his struggle, he couldn't pay any rent, so, he asked his NSD senior if he could stay with him. The senior allowed him to share his apartment in Goregaon if he was willing to cook meals for him, which he was willing to do all day!
The year 2012 was the turning point for him, with films like Kahaani and Gangs of Wasseypur doing so well at the box office and that was when the world got to recognize the real potential of this incredible actor. Nawaz didn't look back after that. He went on to act in big movies like Talaash, Badlapur, Lunchbox, Kick, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Raees, and also the Oscar-nominated Lion.
Did he ever think of giving up? Obviously. He must have been through such situations in life where he felt as if he was wasting time. The thing that always kept him going was his resolution to achieve something and show his caliber to the world. Since he had nowhere to go back to, he tried everything to sustain in Mumbai. Nawaz knew, if he ever thought of returning to his village, the society would ridicule him. “Arey hero banne gaya tha, waapis laut aaya” (Look at him, he went on to become a hero, but returned empty-handed).
He has now established himself firmly in the Indian film industry where he faces lots of competition and still manages to deliver almost 3-4 films in a year, and surprising the directors with his adaptability and consistency.
Siddiqui now lives in Mumbai with his younger brother, Shamas Nawab Siddiqui who is a director. Nawazuddin is married to Anjali and they have a daughter, Shora, and a son who was born on the actor's 41st birthday.
His memoir, An Ordinary Life was released on 25th October 2017, which narrated the story of his life to the whole world. But the book was withdrawn later due to a complaint filed by NCW.
“Where there is a will, there is a way”
Nawazuddin Siddiqui has seen it all, from being a watchman to just an extra and a prop actor to being a lead actor and traveling to film festivals like Cannes and to being one of the most talented and versatile actors of the Indian film industry. Nawazuddin Siddiqui's story is quite an inspirational rags-to-riches tale. And that says it all, once we decide to do something we should never stop before we achieve it to the fullest. We should never restrict ourselves to something that’s below our reach, something that we can do easily! We should always strive for greatness and not the wealth that it brings. We only need to make it happen!