Naseeruddin Shah is an actor in the truest form. A Padma Shri, a Padma Bhushan and a three-time national award winner, he continues to work with the rigour of a newcomer. Apart from being touted as one of the finest actors in mainstream Bollywood and parallel cinema, having worked in movies like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Mohra and Iqbal to name a few, he is also a devoted theatre actor and director. On his 69th birthday, his colleagues from Motley give an insight into the actor's persona, as a theatre master and actor.
The idea of a theatre group struck him in a small coffee house in Lucknow in 1978. After a year of hard work, his theatre group, named Motley, produced its first play in July 1979 at the Prithvi theatre. It was the classic by Samuel Beckett- Waiting for Godot. The theatre group, which recently completed its 40th year, has still been going strong. When it comes to discipline, which is the very essence of being a theatre actor in the first place, Shah turns as a taskmaster. He treats ‘theatre as his baby’ and remains tirelessly dedicated to honing the skills required for his craft.
Actor Rajit Kapoor, famous for his portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in The Making of Mahatma (1996), has worked with Shah in two plays- Imaginary Invalid and Walk in the woods. It was during a three-day workshop in his college Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics, that he had grabbed the opportunity to attend his workshop. And that is what made all the difference. The actor, while speaking exclusively to in.com, says, “It was in the year 1984 or 85. But I still remember that three-day workshop. After a few years when I started acting in plays, he was gracious enough to come and see them. It was from there that our friendship grew and he asked me to act in ‘Imaginary Invalid’ with him.”
Although the two actors have not featured together in a Bollywood movie, Kapoor says it is the love and passion for the stage which have kept them together. That is why, it was after 25 years that Shah asked Kapoor to act in Walk In The Woods, which was a two-actor play. On Shah’s zeal of working, he says, “Every year, he always brings something new on the stage, which is an admirable quality, even though he doesn’t need to do that. A lot of other actors who have done theatre before are afraid to go back to the stage. It’s because theatre requires a higher degree of focus and concentration. If an actor becomes lazy, you don’t want to work hard. And now we even have Television and web series to make ourselves feel comfortable as an actor. But Naseer is different.”
Randeep Hooda, too, starred in plays with Shah. Recently, on the occasion of Guru Purnima, the actor tweeted a throwback picture from a performance of the play Waiting for Godot.
Check out his post here:
Actor Sahil Vaid, who has starred in movies like Bittoo Boss and Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya, recalls a personal incident about Shah, which helped him steer his career to acting. Sharing the same with in.com, he said, “When I was a student at Whistling Woods International, he was the HOD of the acting course. I was going to join the army and had even cleared the NSS exam. He asked me what I wanted to do. So I said whatever my father wants me to!”
It was one day when Shah called his father for a tête-à-tête. After a while, Vaid was called in too and asked the same question on what does he want to do. He added, “I again replied, whatever my father wants. Naseer sir said, ‘That’s weird because your father said he would want whatever his son wants to do!”
"That day, I realised that he really cared for those who are dedicated. He didn’t have to do that but he took it upon himself. If nothing else, it’s only sweet of him to give whatever he has learnt in the industry,” Vaid says.
Ask him if he’s a strict teacher, the Bittoo boss actor says, “He is scary if you are not prepared. Then there’s no one scarier than him. But if you are, there’s no one sweeter than him. It’s not easy being his actor. But this is what is required.”
However, Rajit Kapoor believes that the word 'strict' has a negative connotation to it. “I don’t like to call it being strict. It’s discipline. That’s what theatre teaches you. If you don’t know how to be, then to have to learn it.”
It goes without saying that even at 69, Naseeruddin Shah can give young actors a run for their money. Here’s wishing him Happy Birthday! Read More