IT’S only been a week since actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s autobiography, An Ordinary Life, hit the stands, but trouble has been brewing from day one. Written with Rituparna Chatterjee, An Ordinary Life charts the journey of one of India’s most exciting and acclaimed actors, from his childhood in Budhana, in Uttar Pradesh, to his training at the National School of Drama, Delhi; from working as a chemist’s assistant at his uncle’s shop, to being a security guard in Delhi, to the many years of struggle in Mumbai, spent in despair and desperation, as he tried to get roles in an industry that had little room for a dark-skinned, small-built man from the heartland. But on Monday evening, in a statement that surprised his fans and the media alike, Siddiqui took to social media and said, “I am apologising to everyone who’s [sic] sentiments are hurt because of the chaos around my memoir, “An Ordinary Life”. I hereby regret and decide to withdraw my book.”
Shortly before the release of the book, an excerpt appeared in the media from the chapter titled “Relationships”, in which Siddiqui talks about his relationships with fellow actors Sunita Rajwar and his Miss Lovely co-star, Niharika Singh. While Rajwar’s full name is not
disclosed, the sections about Singh are more detailed, leading the actress to denounce Siddiqui for not taking her consent before publishing his autobiography. A few days later, in a long Facebook post, Rajwar wrote that the 44-year-old actor’s version of events are “extraordinary lies”. She went on to counter his memories of their relationship and called him a “sympathy seeker”, and that she ended the relationship because of his “poor way of thinking”.
The third and latest blow comes from a Delhi-based advocate, Gautam Gulati, who has filed a complaint against the actor in the National Commission for Women (NCW) for “outraging the modesty of his Miss Lovely co-star.” In his complaint, he is seeking direction for the registration of an FIR under Sections 376 (rape), 497 (adultery) and 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) of the IPC. The complaint reads: “The actor has published it without having second thoughts about how this kind of act can ruin the married life of the victim. For minting money and garnering free publicity for his book, the actor has bargained the modesty of a woman”. In a statement to the press, Gulati stressed that Siddiqui was “evidently married when he was having an affair with Niharika and kept her in the dark about it.”
While Gulati has not been in touch with Singh, it appears that his complaint is based on her recent interaction with the media, where she states that she was unaware that Siddiqui had a wife back home in Budhana. “I found out only after I was with him that he had a wife in the village whom he never spoke about. With Nawaz, it’s difficult to tell who he’s with because he would rarely give me a straight answer,” Singh said in a statement to the press.
An Ordinary Life was readying for an official launch in early November but Siddiqui’s publishers, Penguin Random House,
have pulled the plug on the book. “I can only confirm that we are withdrawing all copies of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s autobiography from the market; in fact, we have already done so,” says Hemali Sodhi, publisher, Penguin Random House.