Nawazuddin Siddiqui stands out in the glamour-struck Bollywood for his striking roles

Tell him that people look forward to watching him on screen and he shoots back, “I am glad it is not because I keep them waiting for my films but for the diverse roles I play.” I am speaking with Nawazuddin Siddiqui over the phone and the actor is very sure of what he wants to say. Nawaz has had it tough. This NSD graduate hailing from a modest farming family of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, is well aware that his critically-acclaimed roles are making a difference to his career.

Says the actor, first seen in 1999 in miniscule roles in films such as Shool and Sarfarosh, “with every role I take on enough risk. But challenges keep an artiste going.”

His latest film Miss Lovely has its own story of triumph. The film that was made in 2009 would have gone unnoticed had it not garnered international recognition for its style of filming and outstanding content as noted by critics worldwide. This independent film made by Ashim Ahluwalia will release on January 17 across the country (400 screens).

Miss Lovely tracks the story of the Duggal brothers who produced sleazy sex-horror films in the 1980s. Nawaz plays the younger sibling Sonu who falls in love with a struggling actress Pinky. “The film is essentially a love story. This man, known for making sleazy films falls in love with a girl who features in these films and doesn’t want her to do them. He wants to make a decent film with her in the lead,” says Nawaz. Miss Lovely “A lot of the cast are part of C-grade films and had their own style of working. We had to understand their approach to help the team give its best.”

This is his first role in the lead but Nawaz is wearing that mantle lightly. “Films are always about team work. Especially when you are shooting, no one talks about who’s playing the lead. Only when it comes to promotions, you realise it. When we took it to Cannes, the feedback was that it looked like a European film,” he says.

Nawaz bagged this role when he was shooting for Firaaq in 2009. “Paresh Rawal knew that Ashim was finalising the cast for Miss Lovely and suggested my name.”

Nawaz is looking at a promising 2014 with as many as six releases. Anurag Kashyap’s Dhumketu will have the actor, mostly seen in serious roles, trying his hand at comedy. “You will be surprised that I laugh quite a lot and can make people around me laugh too!”

The other films in his kitty are Ketan Mehta’s Mountain Man, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa, Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick and Shlok Sharma’s Haramkhor.