The first Indian woman boxer to win a gold medal at the Asian Games 2014 recalls her stay at The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai
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OT: How often do you travel?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I’m on the road about 20 days a month. It’s either to shoot or to promote a film. But I can’t remember the last time I went on a vacation. Sometimes, there’s a gap between films, but that time goes away in preparing for the role and sorting other things out behind the scenes.
OT: Does it get tough living out of a suitcase?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Not really. In fact, it’s become so much a part of my life that staying at home for a month at a stretch would probably make me restless. The best thing about being at home, of course, is spending time with my daughter.
OT: Have you been on trips with her and your wife?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Not yet. I travel by myself and my wife stays back, taking care of the home and our child. Once my daughter grows up a bit, I want her to see all places I get to see.
OT: Which are your favourite holiday destinations?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: In India, it’s Jaisalmer. There’s something inspiring about that desert landscape. You can see for miles with nothing obstructing your vision, and it’s quite incredible, especially if you are seeing it from a height.
Abroad, I love New York. I first went there about three years ago to shoot for New York. The nightlife is the best. That city’s energy can’t be found anywhere else.
OT: Are you still able to travel incognito?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: It’s become difficult in India, and, to my surprise, The Lunchbox has been viewed so widely in the US that even Americans are able to make the connection, as I discovered on some recent trips.
OT: Does location influence performance?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Totally. The wind, the weather, the temperature, the local culture and behaviours affect us both physically and mentally. My latest film, Mountain Man, is a biopic on Dashrath Manjhi. He’s a man from Bihar who chipped away single-handedly to carve a path through a mountain with a hammer and chisel for 22 years after his wife died because of lack of medical care in their village. We shot in the mountains about an hour’s drive from Bodh Gaya. Up there, I actually felt I could do anything. When you are on a set, you are acting. On location, you absorb your surrounding and respond to it. It shows in your performance.
OT: Any memorable food experiences?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I once had beef in a Korean restaurant in New York. It tasted just like what I would have at home, made by my mother. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant or the dish but I remember its taste.
OT: Any destination on your wishlist?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: I have been meaning to visit my naani’s village of Bilojpur in UP for over a decade now. I have a lot of childhood memories associated with it, which I would like to refresh.
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