Mumbai, Jan. 23 -- Naseeruddin Shah, who has been acting for over four decades now, is quick to admit that early in his career, he wasn't a popular, successful name. However, he's thankful for the free time that gave him to spend with his family.
"We become actors because we want to be famous. It did hurt that I did not get commercial success at that time. But I have been able to go home, play cricket with my sons and lead a normal life," said Naseer, during a conversation with Girish Karnad at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.
The veteran actor also revealed the unusual reason behind his casting in his debut film (Nishant; 1975). "It was a time when the film industry was overrun with big actors who all looked fabulous. But I got my first break as I was not good looking enough," he said. Film-maker Shyam Benegal was keen on casting an actor who didn't look like a chocolate boy. Karnad added, "He was on the lookout for a non-Rajesh Khanna face. I suggested Naseer's name to Benegal. That is how the movie Nishant (1975) happened for him."
"It was serendipity," said 65-year-old Naseer, an actor who has been known to play diverse roles such as that of an adulterous father in Masoom (1984) and The Dirty Picture (2012).
Benegal, known for his style of alternate cinema, gave Naseer his first titular role which the actor has said, on various occasions, was the closest he has come to playing his real self on screen. "I identified with Nishant on so many levels," revealed the veteran actor.