Naseer takes cooking lessons for '7 To The Palace'

Mumbai, Oct 29 (IANS) Veteran actor Naseerudin Shah has learnt to chop onions and garlics here to play a chef in his just completed film "7 To The Palace" in New York.

"I had to learn to chop onions and garlics before I left. But most of the time I had to fake the cooking. I hope I've faked it well," he said.

Naseer said his wife Ratna is the best cook in the world while he is the worst. "That's why we're compatible. I used to make an omelette for my boys when they had to leave for school early. But that's about it."

The film, directed by David Kaplan, was completed by Naseer during July. David earlier made a film called "Year Of The Fish", which was about a Chinese restaurant. In "7 To The Palace", Naseer plays a maverick cab driver who becomes a chef.

"David loves food, its preparation, consumption and, of course, making culinary movies. Both his movies so far are about food. It was a beautiful little script about a tacky Indian restaurant called The Palace in Queens in New York," he said.

Asif Mandvi, who wrote the script, plays a man who is trained to cook Indian food by Naseer.

Naseer, who plays a very cheerful extrovert character, said he has not played such a character for a while. "I feel it's the actor's job to fit the shoes that the director has made for him to the best of his abilities."

In the film, Naseer had Madhur Jaffrey for company. "I had one scene with her. But I couldn't ask the queen of cookery for tips. So, before I left for New York, I met up with this chef - friend of mine Pushan Kripalani who runs a kitchen in Versova. I spent an afternoon with him learning to peel onions and garlics. That was very useful because those were the two things I was asked to do in the film."

For a change, Naseer doesn't have just cameo in the film. "It's in a way as pivotal as the part I had in 'Iqbal'. I play a character who inspires the underdog. In 'Iqbal', I played a drunk character. Here I'm drunk on life."

He said: "Lately I was feeling lazy, tired and bored and didn't feel like doing lengthy parts, hence the series of cameos in the last one year. But now I've a very exciting role in 'A Wednesday'. I'm also happy with Paresh Rawal's 'Maharathi'."

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