“To me, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a natural and miraculous actor. His acting seems exceptionally effortless. Say, when you see Lionel Messi dribbling the ball through five players towards the goalpost, how do you feel? Doesn’t it look very easy? It is easy for Messi, not for us, certainly. Nawazuddin is like Messi,” says prominent Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki who cast Nawazuddin, one of the most versatile Bollywood actors, in his new venture ‘No Land’s Man’.
“When a work becomes effortless? It only happens when someone knows it very well. That is what exactly happens to Nawazuddin’s acting,” the director said, praising the Bollywood actor.
In a recent interview with Prothom Alo, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki spoke about how the story of ‘No Land’s Man’ came into being and how Nawazuddin Siddiqui came on board the project.
As to the director, he went to Nawazuddin’s office in Mumbai with one of his friends and discussed the storyline over a cup of tea in 2014.
Nawazuddin, with tears in his eyes, applauded the script at the time. The director, earlier in a fix to find a suitable face for his film, decided right away that Nawazuddin would be the protagonist of ‘No Land’s Man’.
Incidentally, Farooki thought of an Iranian actor for the character earlier.
After five years, when Farooki was preparing for another project, Nawazuddin one day asked him if it was possible to take up the venture. When Farooki said he did not have enough funds to make ‘No Land’s Man’, Nawazuddin requested him to go to Mumbai where he later agreed to become one of the producers of the film.
“We started the shooting in November 2019 in New York. Nawazuddin seemed very carefree the night before the shooting- having fun, chilling with everyone and eating. I doubted for a moment, ‘is he ready for the character?’ I was surprised seeing him the next morning. He was into the character. Not only by make-up and costume, but his facial expressions and eyes were totally changed. I knew exactly that moment, he is the one!” Mostofa Sarwar Farooki explained.
Nawazuddin’s sister, who shared the similar name of the actor’s on-screen sister in the film, died during the shooting. Nawazuddin continued working even after receiving his sister’s death news.
“She was suffering from cancer. Nawazuddin asked me one day if I knew that his sister’s name is Saima. I really did not know. It was a coincidence,” the maker said.
Although most of the hype about the film began after Nawazuddin’s part in it was revealed, the film set an example being awarded the Script Development fund in the Motion Picture Association of America and Asia Pacific Screen Awards and became a part of the Asian Project Market at Busan long in 2014, before its production process. The film was selected as the best project in India’s Film Bazaar the same year.
The film’s shooting in Australia and the USA has been wrapped while its part India will begin soon. The director said the shooting will be completed in one and a half months.
Singer-turned-actor Tahsan Khan will be one of the prominent characters in the film while Australian theatre actor Megan Mitchell will be seen in the film.
Asked about the characters, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki said, Tahsan will play a Bangladeshi man living in New York while Megan, an Australian citizen and Nawazuddin, an Indian, who came to visit New York.
‘Anyone can relate the story with the contemporary world, “the director added.
Incidentally, ‘No Land’s Man’ is Nawazuddin’s first ever film in English.
*The piece is an excerpt, written in English by Farjana Liakat, of a Bangla interview taken by Zinat Sharmin