Saturday, 8 June 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2013: Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Lunchbox

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Lunchbox did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Shaikh in Lunchbox.

Lunchbox is a sweet little film about a retiring widower, Saajan (Irrfan Khan), who strikes up a friendship through notes with a housewife, who prepares his meals, via his lunchbox.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui features in a subplot within that main story, as the man set to replace Saajan once he is retired. Siddiqui's performance is near caricature, though not quite there, in his opening few scenes as he puts on more than an ounce of eagerness in his eyes and every delivery as Shaikh tries to make a good impression on Saajan. This, however, is not a criticism as this sets up the character well as Siddiqui's performance, which as I said doesn't quite become caricature, brings the right thinness to really the act his Shaikh is putting on for his mentor. This is evidenced through Siddiqui's performance which delivers the right nuance to the character once Saajan makes it quite clear that Shaikh's people pleaser every-second-of-the-day routine isn't really going to work for him. Siddiqui tones it down considerable revealing the act that was seen before, and from then on features a far more down to earth performance appropriately. His performance then changes to become fairly reactionary as Shaikh reveals a bit about himself, but more so reveals a bit more of his somewhat difficult past as well.

Siddiqui changes to a proper naturalistic approach in his work offering the right interest in his eyes, and a genuine warmth in his voice as he engages with the older man's wisdom far more without the pretense. He and Khan strike up an appropriate chemistry with one another, with Siddiqui evoking this real interest in his eyes as he looks upon and listens to Saajan. These scenes of a more honest mentor/protege relationship are relatively brief in their snippets, yet all well portrayed in both actors bringing out this bit more warmth and sense of empathy between the two in each successive scene. Siddiqui's own work is relatively subdued yet certainly effective in just creating this likable, if somewhat flawed, man trying to learn something from his experience. His one major scene outside of the relationship is late in the film as he tries to help the housewife find Saajan, after he has retired. Siddiqui does some fine work to be sure, giving an earnest depiction of the support of the young man who has invested a great deal in the plight of the older man. Much like the film, this is a nice little performance, that I really didn't require anymore from, even if limited within itself. Siddiqui gives a good performance, that just matches the film's heart with his honest turn.

8 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the cast.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the film.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your Top Ten Most and Least Deserving Special/Visual Effects Oscar winners?

John Smith said...

Just finished The Sopranos. James Gandolfini is a an amazing actor. Has anyone here seen it?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Khan - 4(A nicely measured turn from him as he depicts a rather subdued change in the character. He brings just such a natural warmth in his growth, while avoiding really the potential cloying nature of the story through his understated approach. He eases into it so gradually that feels so naturalistic, as he just brings just a bit more of this tenderness and honesty over the sort of indifferent, slight sadness, we find in from the outset in the character. His narration in particular is so essential to the success of the film, as every little "letter back" is brought to life through his elegant delivery.)

Kaur - 4(Matches his performance, though I do wish she was granted just a bit more perspective in the film, as I feel his is so favored that she becomes supporting in what should be a two hander. Kaur though matches Khan in terms of just bringing out this expression of love, not so much directly romantic, but rather this love of life in the moments of reaction to his letters. In addition she is very effective in her moments of speaking her letters, which typically are a bit sadder, in creating the effective sense of quiet discontent in her mistreatment.)

Tahmeed:

It is sort of Ikiru meets the Shop Around the Corner, though it is neither a masterpiece like the former, or just a wonderful film like the latter. That isn't to besmirch it in the least though as I found it quite effective in its rather quiet and subdued approach to the story. This finding a real honesty within the potential corny setup, with such notable moments that create a real sense of pathos within both of the character's lives without falling into overt melodrama.

Bryan:

Most (This is actually a category they're pretty good at):

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. Jurassic Park
3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
4. The Empire Strikes Back
5. Star Wars
6. Return of the King
7. The Two Towers
8. Fellowship of the Ring
9. Blade Runner 2049
10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Least:

King Kong (76)
Doctor Dolittle
Forrest Gump
Earthquake
The Poseidon Adventure
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Cleopatra (Not even bad per se, but the work suffers in comparison to other epics of the period, that came before even, like 10 Commandments and Ben-Hur.)

And that's about it. Worth noting I don't like how Avatar looks but that has far more to do with the art direction and cinematography more so than the actual VFX work.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: They've picked a pretty good batch of winners for that category this decade, though I think it's a little curious that Ex Machina upset MMFR in one of the categories that seemed a LOCK for the latter.

Is First Man right there at #11 by any chance? Or a little below?

Oh and speaking of the Academy, are there any reasons you think they've nominated Lynch three times, yet the DGA has only done that once? My theory is that actors love working with him, and they make up the biggest branch.

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Fury Road deserved that win, but Ex Machina's a great example of more minimalist effects.

It's in the upper stratosphere (no pun intended there) to be sure, but the academy made a lot of fantastic choices.

As for Lynch, I must disagree with your theory only because the director's branch votes on the nominees (Every branch gets to vote on the winners). My theory is rather I find it seems there is the difference in the academy branches versus the guilds. In the guilds you seem to have large swathes of voters who use it as their personal "favorite films" ballot rather than looking at whatever thing they're actually voting on. This is across several guilds actually with many head scratcher nominations because of this approach. Whereas in the academy, that still happens, however there is a stronger vein that seems to be far more focused on the individual achievement of their respective endeavor, especially in the directors/writers branches.

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