Siddharth Menon opens up on winning National Award, facing rejections, Bollywood vs regional film debate, and more

Siddharth won a National Award for his Marathi film 'June'

Sagarika Choudhary Updated: Friday, December 02, 2022, 11:17 PM IST
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Siddharth Menon | Instagram

 Siddharth Menon won a Special Jury mention as an actor for his Marathi film ‘June’ at the 68th National Film Awards and since then, there has been no looking back for him.

Siddharth started out in theatre and eventually rose to fame through the Anurag Kashyap- Vasan Bala crime-thriller, ‘Peddlers’ (2012). He has also been a part of films like ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ and ‘Karwaan’, and the hit web series ‘Made In Heaven’.

The Free Press Journal caught up with him for an exclusive tête-à-tête wherein Siddharth bared his heart about winning the National Award, dabbling in Hindi and regional cinema, challenges, rejections, and more.

Excerpts from the interview:

How does it feel to win a National Award at such a young age?

To win a national award at any age is very special. The feeling of your own country honouring you is a whole different thing. It did not really sink in till the time I reached Delhi and saw a 'Bharat Sarkar' car waiting for me. They took me to Vigyan Bhavan where the awards were presented by the President, and it's overwhelming to be under the same roof as so many great people from all walks of life.

How has life changed post winning the National Award?

 It has instilled a lot of faith in people about what I'm capable of. I'm very lucky to have worked with so many great filmmakers and the feedback has always been positive. But even then, I had to prove myself to a lot of people who did not have access to my films. This National Award has changed that for me. It has added to my credibility. I'm getting to meet a lot of filmmakers who are willing to work with me. Those networks have opened up.

How has your journey been in the showbiz?

My journey has been a very balanced rollercoaster, I would like to say. I debuted with ‘Peddlers’ and that was the best thing to have happened to me. But the film didn’t release in India so I was still a newcomer here. I had to take up films just for the money, to sustain in the city, but those films actually did well and I was confused about how things work. There was a time when almost every trailer that I saw, I was like 'Yeah I got rejected for that'.

But there has also been a great counterbalance to all of this. I've travelled to almost all major film festivals because of my work. I've worked with ground-breaking filmmakers. I got to work across languages and mediums. I got to do the Broadway ‘Alladin’. I got to perform in front of thousands of people.

So, there have been hits and misses, but I'm enjoying the ride. To sum up my journey, I would say that I'm the most experienced newcomer on the block.

What challenges did you face during this journey?

I'm aware of how the business works and where I stand at what given time. And to deal with that reality has been extremely challenging. You might have given the performance of a lifetime, but if your film does not get a release, then that's that. You're back to square one. The rejections are fine but there have been certain projects that were very serious about me and then overnight, the film gets announced with some other actor in it. And this is not about nepotism. In fact, I've never been replaced by a star kid ever.

Right now, the challenge is to empower the makers. I want them to believe that they can make a film with me business-wise as well.

There is this raging debate going on about Bollywood vs regional films and you've been a part of both. What's your take on it?

 Be it regional or Bollywood, all of it is ours. It's Indian cinema. And right now, the theory that's going around is that all regional films are good and all Bollywood films are bad. But that's not the case. There have been Bollywood films recently which are really good but they didn't perform well at the box office. Every industry goes through its ups and downs. Regional cinema is not just south cinema. Even today, Marathi films struggle to get screens and don't earn as much. There are south films that don't perform well at the box office.

Also, we don't talk enough about the crossovers that are happening. I'm from Kerala but I've worked in a Marathi film. I've played a north Indian in Hindi films. There are so many filmmakers who are crossing borders and making cinema. It's such a beautiful thing. We should just leave this debate to the evolution of the industries and think about how everyone is watching everyone's work. This unifies the country in a way.

What are your future projects?

Right now, my web series ‘Dharavi Bank’ is streaming online and I am hearing good things about it. ‘Max Min and Meowzaki’ releases theatrically next year. There are a couple of films I'm working on right now. There's a Hindi film where I've done a guest appearance as well, but I cannot reveal much about these projects. All in good time.

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