Naseeruddin Shah talks about Dedh Ishqiya, his chemistry with Madhuri Dixit and a lot more’¦
The actor plays a poet in his new film Dedh Ishqiya. Ask him about his character in the film and he says, “I just pretend to be a Nawab and a poet, but actually I am the same foul-mouthed Khallu deep down in the film.” Chilling in his track pants and casual t-shirt, the one thing that’s really noticeable about him is not just his simple appearance but also his downright honesty. People think that he’s the intense star who loves immersing himself into films. Well, not really. He says, “I like doing nothing; I am not a workaholic. I spend a lot of time doing nothing. I like to swim and play with my sons but it’s just great to do nothing at times.”
Naseeruddin Shah talks about Dedh Ishqiya, his chemistry with Madhuri Dixit and a lot more…
You share a lot of screen space with Arshad Warsi in Dedh Ishqiya…
That could be the result of the fact that Arshad and I got along pretty well. We dropped a lot to the box, which is why maybe Abhishek (Chaubey) decided to give us a lot of screen space.
You recently said that you are not a saleable actor, why do you think so?
Despite having some of the most successful films like Main Hoon Na, Krrish, Ishqiya and Monsoon Wedding, I am still not a saleable actor and I have no clue why. But I don’t break my head too much because I am earning as much as I need and that’s how it’s always been with me. Out of 250 films, at least 50 films I must have done free of charge. And out of those 50 perhaps at least 5 will be remembered I hope.
I hear Madhuri felt really shy while doing romantic scenes with you while shooting for Dedh Ishqiya?
I don’t know why she used to feel shy. What often happens in commercial films is that actors don’t look into each other’s eyes while acting, they look at the camera. That could be one of the reasons she felt shy. But I found that she’s one of the few actors who is comfortable looking into the eyes while she’s acting. I have worked with a lot of actors who get conscious when asked to look in the eye. So many times they have just asked me to look away. I think Madhuri is very confident. She doesn’t think of herself as a star. My friends and family are very impressed with her. She’s extremely dignified and charming.
You have done some amazing films, but you have also done films like Jackpot, why?
I toss the coin, and if its heads, I do it (laughs). But on a serious note, people do make mistakes at times and I am no exception.
So you stick to what you always say, ‘Bollywood makes trash’!
We are better looking trash. You compare our special effects with something like Iron man and Spiderman. You compare our storytelling with the kind of movies made in Iran, Poland and Brazil, we stand nowhere. Compare our musicals to the kind of stuff they make in the West, we are nowhere. We are stars who pander to their own egos all the time. People like Brad Pitt and the big stars out there in Hollywood; they use their star clout to change things unlike us. Hindi movies will continue to be popular throughout the globe only if we get our act together and start making reasonable films, and that seems highly unlikely.
Abhishek (director of Dedh Ishqiya) allowed you to improvise, say something about that…
He was open to suggestions. Abhi likes to encourage the participation of actors. He is also very fond of me and Arshad so a lot of affection was involved.
Today people like Nawazuddin are known solely for their acting. You think the audience is becoming more accepting?
Mentality is pretty much the same. The audience has always appreciated good acting. And now with unconventional people getting offers I think the credit should go to Amitabh Bachchan. Initially people used to say that he looks like a grasshopper and all. And now the same people think he’s a sexy man. So he has a hand in making the unconventional face acceptable. But I feel people like Nawazuddin and Irrfan should try and recognise their own strengths. They shouldn’t fall for the whole ‘fitting into the mould of a star’ thing. They should pave their own path and I think they both are in a position where they can perhaps do that. Filmmakers who give in to casting only good looking stars do that only to reach a wider audience. A star is a person who has spent 40-50 years perfecting the art of being synthetic. Amitabh has perfected that art, and he’s expected to be all real in his films now. He can’t be real in his real life ya.
You hardly promote your films, you don’t believe in all this, do you?
I think all this promotion crap is a waste of time. Promotions can’t make an unsuccessful film successful. And whichever films I haven’t promoted have done well. Ishqiya, Wednesday…they were all hits. And the films I have promoted have flopped. Uhhh…and now I am getting a li’l scared about Dedh Ishqiya (laughs).
Vivaan will be seen in Happy New Year, did you give him any acting tips?
I don’t know anything about acting in commercial films. So I don’t give him any tips. I trust him under Farah’s guidance. She cast him because of his own merit not because he’s my son. He got the role on his own.
Does one of the most versatile actors of Bollywood have any fears?
Yes…that I’ll get hit by a truck tomorrow and won’t be able to act anymore. That scares me a lot. It would be a very tough call to make if I am not able to act tomorrow.