MUMBAI: One of America’s most revered and feared critics Roger Ebert cannot speak. He has lost his voice to cancer. This, our own Bollywood’s maverick actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui discovered when he flew down to Ebert’s home-town Illinois the Eberfest, Roger Ebert’s annual film festival this month.
In a moving tribute Ebert ‘spoke’ on stage about Nawazuddin’s work.
Moved beyond belief the actor says, “He has lost his voice and in fact the bottom of his face is gone. But his passion for cinema remains the same. Mr Ebert actually gives speeches on stage. He lip-syncs pre-recorded speeches on stage.”
To ‘hear’ Ebert praise Nawazuddin in such a way was the most memorable compliment of the actor’s life.
Ebert who liked Nawazuddin’s work in the film Patang, invited him home for lunch .
Says Nawazuddin, “Mr Ebert and his wife played perfect hosts. Though he can’t speak I didn’t for a minute feel any inadequacy in our communication.”
At the exclusive lunch with Roger Ebert the other two guests were actor Michael Shanon(from Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road) and the prolific Australian director Paul Cox.
All three –Ebert,Shannon and Cox—showed an interest in watching Nawazuddin’s performance in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur Part 2. But at the moment Kashyap focuses on the first part of the Wasseypur saga. Nawazuddin is no part of it.