By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, Aug 8 (IANS) Naseeruddin Shah, who gets a "bigger high" from
direction than acting, confesses his adoration for Hema Malini with
whom he is paired after a long gap.
About Milan Luthria's new episodic film, he says: "Hema and I are
playing an over-the-hill romantic couple who never came together.
"She's still gorgeous, isn't she? I adore her. I think we'll make a
good couple," Naseer told IANS.
He is also keen to work with Shabana Azmi again. "The right part
hasn't come along recently. She accuses me of not wanting to work with
her. I don't want to do crap with her. But it'll happen again.
"I somehow have the feeling that all these years when we haven't
worked together has done our pair a whole lot of good," says the actor
As to which is better - acting or directing - he says: "Acting in
movies is the most miserable job in the world. Sometimes you've two
minutes of work after waiting on the set the whole day. Direction gives
me a much bigger high. It feels like my whole career has been a
preparation for this."
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: Why direction so late in your life?
A: For the simple reason that it didn't seem right earlier on. I
remember myself as a typical kid with dreams of directing a film
starring myself. I had some ideas at 19, which I'd still like to
direct. But I never wanted to become a filmmaker earlier. I only wanted
I had no statements to make, no burning messages that I wanted to
deliver to the world. I wanted direction to happen organically. That's
why "Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota" took so long.
Q: The film offers an unusual format of presentation.
A: That's right. It has four different stories, all of which can be
defined as love stories, all presenting couples from different age
groups. There's a teenage couple, a slightly older couple, then a guy
obsessed with a much older woman and finally a middle-aged couple.
The couples and their stories collide at the end. The segmented
storytelling isn't so unusual. Mani Ratnam did it in "Yuva" recently.
And long ago, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Musafir". Then the same format
was seen in Italian films like Vittorio de Sica's "Yesterday Today And
Tomorrow" and another called "Woman Times 7", which had seven separate
stories. And now there's "Crash". It gave me a complex. I was always
fascinated by the episodic format.
Q: So many actors felt left out of your film. Om Puri was
A: I'll talk to him about that. It was sweet of him to feel left
out. I know he'd have done any part I asked him. But there was no part
for him. When I cast him, I'd like to do justice to him.
Everyone who's rallied around has become a friend, like Paresh
Rawal, Irrfan Khan and Konkona (SenSharma). They're such marvellous
actors. And the novices went through rehearsals before going on the
I had a blast directing them. I may just be doing direction for the
rest of my life. Straining myself for a part even for something like
"Paar" doesn't excite me right now. I'd like to help other actors do
that kind of stuff. Hence my fascination with teaching.
Q: Is direction as stimulating as acting?
A: It's much more stimulating than acting. Acting in movies is the
most miserable job in the world. Sometimes you've two minutes of work
after waiting on the sets the whole day. I enjoyed it while it lasted.
But now I want to move on. In fact, I'm not acting in my film. I've
dubbed for two or three incidental characters.
Q: Just to be part of the cast?
A: No. There was no one else to do it. We needed American accents.
Okay, I confess I wanted to upstage my actors (laughs).
Q: Are you bored with acting because you aren't getting the right
kind of roles?
A: No. I've enjoyed "Monsoon Wedding", "Parzania", "Valley Of
Flowers", even the small parts in "Mixed Doubles" and "Omkara".
Direction gives me a much bigger high. It feels like my whole career
has been a preparation for this. Mind you, I still enjoy acting in
theatre immensely. Frankly, I wouldn't act in a film unless it really
excites me. I'm trying to do small parts in films by friends.
Q: Did you enjoy playing god in "Banaras - A Mystic Love Story"?
A: "Banaras" was a little beyond me, I've to admit. There're many
films that I didn't understand while they were being made. But on
seeing them finally, I did. I didn't understand "Banaras" even after I
saw the end product. May be I'm not mature enough to understand it.
Q: I loved your goofy villainy in "Krrish".
A: I had a ball doing it. To begin with, the part didn't excite me.
But Rakesh Roshan was keen on me. You can't argue with success.
Q: Is it a sorrow that you don't command the same commercial stature
as Amitabh Bachchan?
A: I have never aspired to occupy the position that he does. It's
very lonely up there. And I'm sure he has a lot of problems. Becoming a
huge star didn't mean the world to me.
I've been doing the kind of work that I want to do. I don't deny
that I wanted to be known to the world and that I wanted to lead a
cushy life. But I've been ambitious only about finding the right kind
of work. For example, at the moment I derive immense pleasure from
teaching acting at Subhash Ghai's Whistling Woods institute.
Q: What else are you looking at as an actor?
A: There's a film by Milan Luthria, which will be shot in November.
It's again an episodic film, just like my own "Yun Hota...". Hema and I
are playing an over-the-hill romantic couple who never came together.
She's still gorgeous, isn't she? I adore her. I think we'll make a good
Q: What about Shabana? She's dying to work with you again.
A: The right part hasn't come along recently. She accuses me of not
wanting to work with her. Why should I do that? Why should I do a film
just because she's in it, or not do a film that doesn't have her? I
don't want to do crap with her. But it'll happen again. I somehow have
the feeling that all these years when we haven't worked together has
done our pair a whole lot of good.
Q: Are your children interested in acting?
A: My daughter Heeba is an actress. My son Imaad played a small part
in "Yun Hota To Kya Hota". He was hanging around home doing nothing.
That's how he got into the film. He's interested in a lot of things,
including music and movies.
I'll support my children in whatever they want to do. My father
didn't want me to be an actor. And there wasn't a damn thing he could
do about it.