Bhopal: Working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Serious Men was a dream come true, says city artist Indira Tiwari

BHOPAL: Indira Tiwari, 27, from the city has essayed the lead role opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui in director Sudhir Mishra's film 'Serious Men'. The film, released on Netflix on October 2, marks her debut as a film actor.

An National School of Drama (NSD) alumnus, Indira has been active in the field of theatre in the city since 2001, after her graduation from the local MLB College. Her first screen role was as a teenage student in director Prakash Jha's ‘Aarakshan’ in which she appeared alongside Amitabh Bachchan.

Her role in Serious Men has won her many accolades. In an interview with Free Press, she talked about her experience of working with Nawazuddin.

How did you get the movie?

After completing my graduation from the National School of Drama (NSD), I went to Mumbai for a day to attend a meeting in connection with a TV serial. That was sometime in 2018. There, someone suggested me to meet casting directors and also gave me their contact numbers. I rang up casting director Mukesh Chhabra. At that time, he was looking for an actor for a movie and called me for an audition. I had to cancel my ticket. I took part in the audition and returned to Bhopal. Some days later, he called me up and said that I have been selected for the role.

How was working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui?

It was like a dream come true. I adore three Bollywood actors and Nawaz is one of them. He also happens to be my NSD senior. I had met him twice at functions at NSD and clicked photographs with him. I posted the photo on my Facebook Wall and wrote that I want to work with him. And luckily, I landed a role opposite him within one year.

How do you see Nawazuddin as an actor?

I met him for the first time on the set of the movie. There is an aura about him. He has lots of energy. And matching up to it is very difficult. But he is a down-to-earth person. He is neither patronising nor deprecating. He is very good at putting his co-actors at ease. He keeps on cracking jokes and ensures that the atmosphere doesn’t turn too serious.

Was there anything you learned from him?

He is very good at improvising and his timing is perfect. That is something one can learn from him. Of course, he is an excellent actor and he knows his job very well. But his habit of improvising also means that his co-actors have to be always ready for surprises.

How the people close to you reacted after the release of the film?

My mother is rather miserly with words. She just told me, “Film achhee hai, and tumhara kaam achha hai.” That is all. But yes, I am receiving lots of compliments through social media. Among others, Anurag Kashyap and Piyush Mishra have praised my acting. In fact, Manoj Vajpayee had sent me a bouquet after seeing the film’s teaser. People in Bhopal are proud that an actor from the city has played the lead role in a film opposite a renowned actor.

How difficult was it playing the role of Oja Mani in the movie?

You see, I am just 27 but I had to play the role of a married woman who is a mother of a child. I am a North Indian but my character is South Indian. I had to play the role of a Dalit. So, I had no personal experience to draw on but still with god’s grace, I could do well. I visited Nehru Nagar in Mumbai where Tamilian Dalits reside to get a feel of their culture and rituals.

Your upcoming projects?

Two of my films shot earlier are yet to be released. They include Nazarband, directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay, which will be an entry at the 25th Busan International Film Festival and Srishti by Paul Ratanraj, which will be screened at the Jio Mumbai Festival. I am also working in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Gangubai Kathiawadi.

How has the corona pandemic affected the film Industry?

Many of my batchmates had to return to their hometowns because they had no work. I didn’t have to but I feel bad about them. As for shooting, I feel it can continue if all safety precautions are observed. If not, we should wait for the .

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