An actor's shame is that shade of human nature he cannot bring on screen.
Malayalam actor Siddique, in his quest to manifest the best of his talent, has gifted Mollywood with some priceless performances; Dosth Viswanathan of 'Asuravamsam,' Hussain of 'Lelam' and the hugely popular Govindan Kutty of Hariharnagar duology. The aimless jobless Malayali youth in the nineties turned a dreaded antagonist in the new millennium. The second decade of 21st century saw Siddique performing responsible father-roles like Abdul Razak in 'Ustad Hotel' and Sura in 'Kattappanayile Hrithik Roshan. As his latest flick 'Shubharathri directed by Vyasan KP and starring Dileep and Anu Sithara is all set to land the movie halls on Juny 6, Saturday, Siddique gets eloquent about his humble beginnings, turning point in his career and aspirations in a free wheeling chat with Onmanorama.
Unemployed, on and off screen
I think I had the passion for movies deep in my mind right from a young age. I took time to discover it. I was born as the first of three children in a family of farmers in Edavanakkad, Ernakulam. I studied electrical engineering diploma in a local polytechnic institute. Straight after my studies, I joined Kerala State Electricity Board. After few years of service, I quit that job and flew to Saudi Arabia where I worked as a technician in a private company for another few years. When that company wound up, I returned to Kerala jobless. It was when I wandered around as a jobless youngster that the dream of acting in cinema started sprouting in me. To be frank, my aim was to share screen space with superstars like Mammootty and Mohanlal and have close interactions with them.
My parents were naturally unhappy about my decision. Acting in movies is obviously not a promising job. One may not always be successful in its pursuit. But I was somewhat confident about my decision. All I wanted were some small scenes here and there. I have visited movie sets and had requested several filmmakers for small roles. Fortunately, no one rejected. I have been offered some role by every director I had met. Thus, I became a junior artist in Malayalam films.
It was only later that I discovered that I had some flair for acting. Slowly, I started getting supporting roles in movies. 'In Harihar Nagar' was a breakthrough in my movie career. Unemployment was a serious issue in 1980's. Most of the movies pivoted around the life and problems of a group of jobless youngsters. I became a common factor in all such movies. Thus, a jobless youngster who got into movies by sheer luck became a jobless youngster on screen too. That image stayed for almost a decade and a half.
Harihar Nagar jackpot
Directors Siddique and Lal set a new beginning in Malayalam cinema through their iconic movie 'Ramjirao Speaking.' That movie is the new-gen movie of our times. It brought on screen, the helplessness, misery and woes of jobless youngsters with a touch of humor. It was a huge success. Industry soon picked up unemployment and celebrated it as a theme. Next came 'In Harihar nagar,' which is also the story of four jobless youths. Fortunately for me, I was one of them. After I performed Govindan Kutty's character in that movie, I got to perform the same type of character in several movies that came afterwards - they even had Govindan kutty's costume, appearance and conduct. Protagonist of those movies might vary - it might be Mukesh, Jayaram or some one else. The hero's friend was fixed as Govindan Kutty in a different name. I played all those supporting characters.
A movie that became a turning point in my career was 'Asuravamsam' that was released in 1997. I played a character called Dosth Viswan in that movie. That character held a special emotional importance in the story-line. The next distinctive character I did was Hussain in 'Lelam.' There is a scene in the movie wherein Hussain cries aloud. Usually, audience do not like to watch men crying on screen. They howl and tease them aloud in the theaters. At the same time, the cry of a woman is received easily. Fortunately, people did not howl at my performance. That was again a milestone.
The movie that convinced filmmakers that I could perform out-of-the-box roles was 'Sathyameva Jayathe', which was released in 2000. I played a role called Balasubrahmanian in that movie. I still remember the kind of responses I received for that movie. Directors Rafi and Mecartin gave me a phone call to express their disbelief. 'I won't believe that Siddique played that role,' Rafi told me. 'It was someone else on screen, not you,' he added. Nineteen years passed by and in 2019, I can tell you proudly that I have done several significant characters in Malayalam cinema. Some of them are so precious that I sometimes feel that I did not even deserve to perform them. I am thankful to my directors for giving me those roles.
Small dreams, big triumph
I came to movies with a dream of performing small and interesting characters like a police officer or a passer-by. My intention was just to meet superstars like Mammootty and Mohanlal and, just like any ordinary young man of my age then, wanted to strike a close rapport with them. But I have got much more than what I had asked for. In the course of my career, I was offered heavy characters that I could not afford to perform. Still, I played them with pleasure because I am still that jobless youngster who aspired just to appear on screen. I hadn't dreamed of stardom. I am not sad about becoming a hero either. Dream of a mountain, you will win a molehill, they say. In my case, I dreamed of a molehill but ended up winning a mountain.
Off late, I get to perform the roles of a responsible father. Be it in 'Ustad Hotel', 'Uyare' or 'Shubharathri'. Let me tell you, I am a very cool dad at home. At times I wonder how my wife and children laugh aloud at the mildest of jokes I crack. I try to spend most of my free time with my family. I feel happy when my wife and children are around. One day, a friend of mine paid me a casual visit. After a few minutes, I noticed that his mood was changing. He became depressed suddenly. When I asked him the reason, he said he was filled with regret watching my interactions with my children. He said he behaved very rudely with his children. He beats them often and scolds them for small mistakes. He said he got jealous by the way my children behaved at home. To be frank, it was then I realized that I raise my children in a commendable manner.
My father is my role model in family life. Though he used to scold me, I have seldom been beaten up. He used to advice me and suggest me role models in every field. He had even given me a model to improve my handwriting. My father himself. He was not an educated person but he had an impressive handwriting. He was also an easy-go-lucky person who was generally happy and relaxed. Even I scold my children but I make sure they learn something new after I scold them each time.
Mohammed and Krishnan
I play a character called Mohammed in the latest movie Shubharathri. Dileep's character is named Krishnan. We had initially decided to name this movie 'Mohammedum Krishnanum' but another production house had already registered the name 'Krishnanum Mohammedum.' So we named this movie 'Shubharathri.' The name represents the positivity of its story-line. The movie takes a turn after one significant night when a very unexpected incident takes place. Though I can't disclose more details about the storyline, I can tell you that the movie is named 'Shubharathri' because of the significance of that particular night.
I don't know why I was selected to perform Mohammed's character. I was fixed to play the role long before Dileep came on board. Director Vyasan imagined this story with me as Mohammed. Once Dileep had told me that Vyasan has a good story and that I have a character role to play in it. It was later that Dileep expressed his readiness to play Krishnan. The project was switched on after Dileep stepped in. Everything happened soon after that. The production was completed in less than thirty days. The movie is only two hours and ten minutes long. It is a cute, optimistic movie that conveys a good message.