Forced Out Of Ramlila Show, Nawazuddin Siddiqui Says 'Childhood Dream' Crushed

Shiv Sena allegedly opposed Nawazuddin Siddiqui performing in Ramlila at his native town in UP

Budhana (Uttar Pradesh): In a video he posted on Thursday, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui tosses out animated, high-pitched dialogue while rehearsing a scene from the Ramlila. He is also seen in full costume.

The critically-acclaimed actor, however, did not make it to the stage in his hometown Budhana in Uttar Pradesh. He was getting ready in the green room when local activists, allegedly of the Shiv Sena, stormed in and started shouting.

The actor quietly left. "There were some technical issues. I was told I should not do it as it was important to maintain peace in the village," he was quoted as telling a news channel before leaving for Mumbai.Amid outrage, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said: "Artistes have no religion. We must avoid elements that are trying to take the discourse in a different direction."

Mr Siddiqui, who has acted in over 50 films since he joined the movies in 1999, wanted to play Maarich, the demon whose wish was to die at the hands of Lord Ram, the hero of the epic that is traditionally enacted during the Dussehra festival.

The Sena, a Maharashtra-based party that has very little influence in UP, was not having it. "We won't allow anyone named Nawazuddin to participate in Ramlila. In this Ramlila's 50-year history no one named 'din' has played any role," said local Sena leader Mukesh Sharma.

The celebrity cameo drew immense buzz in the region. But hundreds were left disappointed on Thursday.

"I have seen all his films. I was looking forward to seeing him perform live," said Rohtash, who had traveled 20 km to see him.

Senior police officer Deepak Kumar said he had offered the actor protection. "He never told us or we would have arranged security. We have filed an FIR," he said.

Many Ramlila shows across UP involve Muslim actors. In Sultanpur, a Muslim family has organized Ramlila for over 100 years. A show that has run in Lucknow for 45 years stars Muslims in the lead roles of Ram, Laxman and Ravan.