Veteran filmmaker Siddique who directed late actor Rizabawa in the blockbuster comedy In Harihar Nagar recalls that the crew had initially cast Tamil actor Raghuvaran to play the iconic villain role of John Honai. However, Raghuvaran got stuck in a foreign country where he had been shooting. The crew members were tensed as they had to begin the filming soon. It was then that Kalabhavan Ansar had brought Riza Bawa to the sets.
“We really liked Riza. But, he wasn’t interested in playing the villain role. He had just essayed the main role in Dr. Pasupathy. He was worried that playing an antagonist at that stage would affect his career,” recalls Siddique.
When the director narrated the story and explained about the character, Riza readily agreed to play it. But, he was still sceptical whether he could pull off the look. “We took him to a salon. His hair was trimmed in the North Indian style and gave him a chained spectacle. With special makeup and expensive costumes, he looked perfect for the role. Riza was surprised seeing himself in mirror. He said, ‘I look like a different person’. We then told him that he now needs to act like a different person,” says the filmmaker.
Siddique remembers Riza as a pleasant person who always has a smile on his face. He says that John Honai’s villainy was not in his looks but in his ways. “Even though Riza was scared and began acting with reluctance, he became confident after two days. He said that he could understand Honai better then. It was his amazing performance that had made Honai an unforgettable character,” notes Siddique.
“I think Riza would have done unique roles and be active again if he could recover from illness. But, it is sad that there won’t be a comeback now,” the filmmaker ends on a sad note.