Caricatures

What Went Right With… Nawazuddin Siddiqui?

A caricature of Nawazuddin Siddiqui by What Went Wrong Or Right With...? For whatwentrightwith.com

The great thing about Netflix is that now and again you end up watching shows and movies you wouldn’t normally seek out. When you’re bored, you find yourself browsing through the genres and during a period of insomnia you take a punt on an unknown film. It’s especially great when you end up watching something entertaining or come across someone talented who you’ve never seen before, and that’s exactly what happened a few months ago when I happened upon a film called “Raman Raghav 2.0”, an Indian serial killer drama-slash-thriller which takes its title from a real-life killer in the 1960s. Now firstly, the film itself I’d say is just above average since there’s many things wrong with it (namely the editing, the soundtrack, and the TV Soap-style acting by Vicky Kaushal who plays the cop character). But putting these issues aside, what stood out for me was the lead actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui whose amazing performance had me enthralled for the entire runtime. Despite the movie’s problems, it was Siddiqui’s performance alone that kept me watching the film, his nuanced performance had depth and he was utterly captivating throughout. His striking, cat-like eyes were perfect in this movie as he watched his victims with a set of invisible binoculars he called “God’s CCTV”, Nawazuddin successfully played the character of a serial killer as both sympathetic and frightening. As an unassuming man walking around in the streets he was convincing but then suddenly a mood change brought out the character’s menace, and that was compelling and powerful.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s acting is simply brilliant in “Raman Raghav 2.0”, you can’t take your eyes away from the screen when he speaks, and he is the main source of emotion and empathy in the film. Along with Amruta Subhash who plays his sister, he is the main selling point of the movie. So impressive is Siddiqui’s acting, that I’m now seeking out other films starring the underrated and underexposed actor. During this search, I happened upon a silent film from 2003 called “The Bypass” which is very entertaining despite it’s short length.

Although this short film doesn’t show the full gamut of Siddiqui’s skills as an actor, it serves as proof that not all foreign language films are stereotypical in their content and construct. For example, not all films made in India are exaggerated, Bollywood showpieces, there are many understated, non-musical movies from that part of the world and when you realise that fact, coupled with the talents of someone like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, it makes for some fantastic films that have yet to be discovered. I know many people are put off by films with subtitles, but if they can get past or get used to the concept of reading whilst watching a piece of cinema, so much more entertainment becomes available to them from all over the world. On a side note, aside from “Raman Raghav 2.0” there’s also “Under The Shadow” an Iranian Horror movie that’s another great find on Netflix, but I digress.

It has to be recognised that if Nawazuddin Siddiqui was an English speaking, western actor he’d have received umpteen awards for his obvious skills, but since he’s from the other side of the globe, his talent goes largely unnoticed. This puts the film industry and award shows into perspective for me; we’re sold a handful of films every year and during “award season” we’re told that these are the most talented people from the world of film. But, with someone like Siddiqui going without any praise or recognition, you realise the whole system of accolading artists is teeming with hierarchy and networking; if you’re not part of the Hollywood A-List or you’re not affiliated or promoted by the mainstream, you’ll get ignored by the mainstream media and therefore the public. If it wasn’t for Netflix I’d never have come across an actor like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and I’d be in the dark when it comes to witnessing international filmic talent.

5.0 Stars.

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