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Sunday, February 12, 2017

सिद्धार्थ निगम

Surely one of the loveliest creatures on the planet is Siddharth Nigam, who. I'm told,  became a household name in India two years ago when he starred in the historical drama Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, as a boy who would become the great King Ashoka who ruled the entire Indian subcontinent in the 2nd Century B.C. We all know how in movies a young actor will often play the main character up to a certain point and then the real star, an adult, takes over.  Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat worked kind of like that, except, Siddharth (Sidd to his fans) played the young Ashoka for a year and three months, at a rate of five episodes per week. Later, when an actor named Mohit Raina assumed the role amidst much hype, the ratings tumbled and the series was cancelled six months later, leaving many to speculate that it was only Siddharth for whom audiences had tuned in for in the first place.  

Have you ever watched an Indian serial drama? I can't pretend to be an expert, and perhaps other Indian serials are different, but Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat is like a telenovela cranked up to eleven. Based on the life of a real person, a historical figure who is well-known to everyone in India,  it has only the vaguest connection to history, and I'm told that everything from the story to the sets and costumes are completely inauthentic. But who cares if that means that all the male actors are bare-chested 99% of the time?  The acting is pure Soap Opera 101. Every announcement and revelation is followed by nostril-flaring reaction shots of every person in the room. In one episode a person who was thought to be dead enters a room and it literally takes ten minutes for the scene to play out, with insanely bombastic music, cameras zooming onto the shocked (SHOCKED!) faces of a least ten characters, slo-mo shots of the not-dead-guy walking through the door, followed by even more reaction shots of the same ten people. I've never felt so bored and yet so overly stimulated in my life. Like most daily dramas the world over, there a lot of characters you have to know, unneeded subplots, many long exposition-filled conversations, and lots of filler, but at the center of this show is Siddharth, who in addition to his stunning good looks and physical prowess (aside from acting, he is also a highly-ranked gymnast with an eye on the Olympics) radiates a ridiculous amount of charm and charisma. I wouldn't call his acting highly naturalistic (he is called upon to do a lot of exclaiming and speechifying) but he generally manages to avoid the scenery chewing of most of his co-stars. And when he smiles, which he does frequently, he lights up a room. 

Gee, I've got to wrap this up...

So here are some photos of beautiful Siddharth Nigam. I hope you enjoy them.

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