Leading Indian actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui (“Sacred Games”) is buzzing. He has just been nominated for a best actor international Emmy for Sudhir Mishra’s Netflix film “Serious Men.”
Siddiqui’s next big international splash is with Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s “No Land’s Man,” where he plays the lead. The film has its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival, where it is nominated for the prestigious Kim Ji-seok award.
Farooki’s “Television” closed Busan in 2012. The filmmaker has been in the vanguard of Bangladesh’s new wave movement with films like “Doob – No Bed of Roses” (2017) and “Saturday Afternoon” (2019). “No Land’s Man” arose from an idea about identity that Farooki presented to Siddiqui at Kolkata some six years ago.
Siddiqui plays a man known as Naveen, or Sameer, who cannot tell the truth about anything, including his name, nationality, religion, family, and past, as he is harboring a potentially devastating secret. The film is set between the U.S., India, Pakistan and Australia.
“Sometimes I feel, ‘which continent do I belong to?’ – and I am filled with a sense of loneliness. It is this idea that Farooki had and that is that motivated me to work with him, and obviously his body of work,” Siddiqui tells Variety. “As we progress as a race, we regress and become narrow-minded and we get divided by group-ism and caste-ism. It feels harsh – we as human beings on this planet, it is our job to keep it safe and preserve and make the planet beautiful. But as individuals we are more divided than ever and that is scary and dangerous.”
“No Land’s Man” won the MPAA and Asia Pacific Screen Awards’ Script Development fund bursary in 2014. It was later part of the Asian Project Market at Busan and was also chosen as the best project at India’s Film Bazaar.
The film is a production by U.S. outfit Dialectic (“Screwdriver”) and Bangladesh’s Chabial (“Television”), in association with Bangladesh’s Sun Music & Motion Pictures (“Lalon”) and Bongo BD, Bangladesh’s largest streamer. Oscar winning composer A.R. Rahman is on board as an executive producer and composer.
“I thought this is our film. It is as much my film as it is Farooki’s or it is Rahman’s, and it needs to get made. That was the thought behind my boarding the project as a producer,” says Siddiqui.
The cast of “No Man’s Land” also includes Australian actor Megan Mitchell, Bangladeshi musician and actor Tahsan Rahman Khan and India’s Eisha Chopra.
Siddiqui spoke with Variety in London, where he has wrapped his part playing the antagonist in Bollywood film “Heropanti 2,” starring Tiger Shroff. Apart from big pay check Bollywood titles, the prolific actor decided over the pandemic that he is focusing on quality over quantity.
He was very picky selecting from the 110 scripts that he received during India’s various lockdowns and consequently has an eclectic slate coming up. These include love story “Tiku Weds Sheru,” produced by Bollywood A-lister Kangana Ranaut; comedy “Jogira Sara Ra Ra” and thriller “Sangeen.” He also has a few projects that he isn’t able to talk about yet.
And as he considers an expanding career in the West, Siddiqui, who has been in the Emmy winning “McMafia” and the Emmy nominated “Sacred Games,” is now considering seeking professional representation.