A decade after the satire highlighted the inherent caste divide in our society, Manu Joseph’s novel Serious Men is being brought alive on the screen by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The film, directed by Sudhir Mishra, revolves around a Dalit slum-dweller Ayyan Mani who develops an outrageous plan to portray his son as a math wiz, in a bid to improve his prospects.
Mishra, who had read the book when it was first published in 2010, devoured it again when he was approached to direct the film. “It is difficult to turn a book into a movie. I can’t mimic the author. We took the characters, the theme and then adapted it for the screen, taking a few cinematic liberties,” says the director, who shot the film at BDD chawls in Worli. He reveals that Joseph was part of the creative process and was elated to find the perfect Ayyan Mani in Siddiqui.
The Netflix release marks the veteran filmmaker’s first collaboration with Siddiqui. His deep admiration for the actor is evident as he says, “I have watched all his films. Nawaz reminds me of Om Puri, be it the ease with which he approaches the role or the fluency with which he merges into the story.” Mishra had teamed up with the late actor in Dharavi (1992).