Master’s Take – In Conversation With Naseeruddin Shah

18 Sep

I like the interviewer. I like the subject. The subject is brilliant and a formidable actor. The incomparable Naseeruddin Shah . India’s Robert De Niro or Dustin Hoffman. I wonder had Naseeruddin Shah been born in United States or Europe the world would have witnessed the range  and scale of his tremendous acting prowess. I think he is as great as De Niro or Pacino or Dustin Hoffman. I say so with full awareness and responsibility.  Barkha is as precocious a talent and has the same child like intensity as the fine actor and says so rightly in introduction:

“Often described as one of the greatest and most talented actors of the film and theater world, Naseeruddin Shah is a man who has both lived and worked on his own terms. Known to never mince his words, he has now taken his embrace of honesty many steps further with a searingly candid autobiography “And Then One Day”. In this book Naseeruddin Shah tells his own story, not only the story of how he became an actor but many other stories that are deeply personal to him. On “We The People”, a freewheeling conversation with one of the most formidable actors of Hindi cinema, Naseeruddin Shah. ”

I had watched the  Goutam Ghose directed movie ” Paar” as a school boy on television and was stunned by the acting of Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi. That remains the ” greatest piece of acting” which have seen in Indian movies. Perhaps only comparison to Balraj Sahni in “Do Bigha Zamin”. I have watched and loved the fine actors work as a school boy and the realistic movies the actor was part of  called ” Parallel cinema”. One of my favorite fun movies is ” Hero Hiralal” . Nasseruddin Shah, Om Puri and Sanjeev Kumar are the best Indian actors that have seen in my growing years.

The irreverent but brilliant actor in this free wheeling conversation with Barkha talks about his autobiography ” And Then One Day”. He is wonderfully candid and talks about  being” Unintelligent, unattractive and unfriendly”in his eyes and sufferring from ” acute problems of self worth early on”. He feels perhaps this ” maladjustment made  exceptional actors: the need to act. ”  He talks of being a ordinary student and talks about letting down his father.  I am stunned by his recollections of the movies he has seen as three or four year old. The plays he recounts as a young child. The actor is a genius.  I am also amazed ” how early the greats discover their calling in life”. The actor says he knew he was meant to act.

The great artiste also talks candily about sex as a fourteen year old and says in jest ” I’ll recommend it” 🙂  and challenges of a failed early marriage,  his separation with his first child and subsequent reconcilliation. Please do see more of this brilliant interview. Nasseruddin shah is one of India’s greatest ever actors and had he born in west would have won a Academy award.

There are little similies from the great actors life in your truly’s life. I also felt thoroughly maladjusted in adholescence. I hated college and was painfully shy. I missed school and school friends. It was the worst period of my life and have no fond memories of 16 to 20. I tried to study later and pursue my goals.  I had same feeling of “letting down father”. Once, I and my father had gone to meet the school principal where my brother was studying as a 16 year old and principal recommended clinical help for my brother. My father broke down in a candid moment and said ” I don’t know what happens to my children at 16 and they were so good and normal and suddenly they suffer”. It was saddest day of my life. I was 21 then. Ofcourse I tried my best later and my father was very kind to me. That sentence has haunted me all my life.

I read the actor’s wife Ratna Pathak Shah’s interview in the newspaper today and she says:

” He is a very fair person. He is a very private person. He is a very generous actor to work with. And he is an extremely focussed person. Acting is really all that he cares about. To see that kind of passion and committed focus can be extremely inspiring. As a person he is quite a special person, that is not to say he is not a difficult person. All special people are difficult. But I suppose that can be said about me too. But the point is that you see what you get. He is very transparent and has no chal kapat ( slime or motives). Nasser is a person who calls a spade a spade and when you are at the receiving end . it’s not all pleasant. So it is hard thing to live with a person who has such sharp eye and such a low tolerance for bullshit. But it’s a good thing and I would recommend it to everyone as the alternative is awful ”

I think the actor couple are brilliant and Ratna Pathak Shah has such a fine comic gift and is also one of my favorite actors…

Naseeruddin Shah is a very special and one of India’s greatest actors.

Hope you like this brilliant interview and good night my friends! Hope you have a lovely day! Thank you!



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