He came to the city of dreams with Rs 2,500 in his pocket and an ambition to make it big in films.
But before giving him his due, Mumbai tested Nawazuddin Siddiqui's patience so much so that the actor has now become fear-proof.
"I have already faced so much in my life. I have seen that time when I didn't even have a single penny in my pocket. And it stayed like that for two-three years. I used to have lunch at one friend's place, dinner at other's and a third friend would get cigarettes for me.
"I came to Mumbai with Rs 2,500. If I again face a situation where I am left with just Rs 2,500, I would not feel like a failure. I am not afraid of anything," Nawaz told PTI.
His first Bollywood break was a small role in Aamir Khan's "Sarfarosh". The 43-year-old actor continued featuring in blink-and-you-miss-it roles in various films till "Gangs of Wasseypur" came and changed his fate.
Nawaz says he thought about leaving Mumbai a lot during his struggling days but he somehow held on to his dream as going back was not an option for him.
"For 12 long years, I kept waiting but it was my choice. I chose to stay and keep trying. I was prepared to go through all the pain to achieve my dream of becoming an actor. There were times when I felt like leaving Mumbai.
"But I did not want to return to my village as people had already told me that I could not be an actor. Returning to Delhi was also not possible as my batchmates from NSD would have said, 'Aagya tu bhi vapas' (You are also back). These were my fears."
From doing walk-on parts to finally being the star of his own films, life has taken a 180 degree turn for Nawaz, but the actor says he is still unaffected by the success he has achieved.
"After 'Gangs...' I have been continuously busy. I did not get time to sit and analyse my success or stardom. My priority is to act and not think about stardom.
"Of course, the perception of people has changed towards me, but I am still the same. The only change in me is as a performer. I have grown in my craft," he says.
Nawaz says earning money and fame is not his aim and hence the fear of losing them does not bother him.
"It is not about money, but the experience I have gained during my journey, which matters to me. The experience of rejection and failure is priceless. These things have made me what I am today. Whatever I have today is much more than what I ever expected. I feel very secure in my space."
The actor admits his focus is on doing good cinema and making sensible choices.
"I choose my projects as per my sensibility. I never pick films to prove that I am different or to show that I can do something which no one else can. Time tells you what to do in life," he says.
The actor's latest release "Munna Michael", which also features Tiger Shroff and newcomer Nidhi Agerwal, hit the screens today.