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Updated: January 12, 2010 16:01 IST

I'm egoistic as an actor: Naseeruddin Shah

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SHAH AMONG ACTORS: Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah says egoism works well when focussed. File photo
The Hindu SHAH AMONG ACTORS: Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah says egoism works well when focussed. File photo

Naseeruddin Shah, one of the pioneers of Indian parallel cinema, says that he is egoistic as an actor and his stubbornness is the reason behind his success.

“I am firmly against doing marginal roles in big budgeted movies. I want to do roles which have dignity. An actor must keep himself exclusive. Being egoistic and stubborn has its own benefits if you know how to use these characteristics,” Shah told PTI.

The National Award winning actor, who will next be seen in Vishal Bhardwaj’s production ‘Ishqiya’, says alternative cinema defying the norm and catering to a niche audience, has become better and more accessible.

“The present generation of filmmakers is not superficial. They are aware of the issues concerning the common man and highlight them in their films very effectively,” Shah said.

The veteran is heartened that the distinction of art, parallel or commercial cinema has lessened over the years and his upcoming film ‘Ishqiya’ is one such entertainer.

“It is about lost souls who come together by fate and end up in a very peculiar triangular relationship where there is crime, conspiracy and camouflage. It is unusual for Hindi cinema. It is thrilling, funny and a touching film,” he said.

Shah saw no reason why there should be such commotion about the language used in the film.

“The brouhaha is unnecessary. It is the kind of language people speak in real life. Then why object in a film? This is hypocrisy,” he said.

The 61-year-old actor had no qualms playing an oldie trying to look young except one that he had to colour his hair black.

“I have no problem in that because I still feel I am 25. What I hated was that I had to colour my hair black. You don’t look young by doing that. Some people try to stop time by colouring their hair. Time does not wait for anybody. Grey hair are earned why be ashamed of them,” he said.

Co-star Arshad Warsi in his view is a very significant actor who got late recognition. “He has got success late and I think that will sustain for long,” he said.

“While Vidya Balan will surprise audiences as an actress, ‘Ishqiya’ will be a major step forward for her. In earlier films she has portrayed submissive and obedient characters,” Shah added.

The actor, who said he signed the film because he believed in the potential of debutante director Abhishek Chaubey.

“I will get to sing and dance and participate in fight scenes. I said yes to the film even before I got the script,” he added.

Shah, who has acted in art house classics like ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaron’, ‘Sparsh’, ‘Manthan’, added that the taste of the masses have not changed as it still wants mindless entertainment.

“Audience do require mindless entertainment. A film like ‘Wanted’ also runs to packed houses,” he said.

However, the actor said that he was allergic to the artificial distinction of art, parallel and commercial cinema which he felt was created by the media.

“You can’t label a film. Will you call ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ and ‘Guide’ as commercial films?” he asked.

Shah added that he has no illusions about his Box Office status.

“I am aware that I am not a pull at the Box Office and draw audiences to theatres on my name. Out of the 250-odd films I have done, only three ‘Tridev’, ‘Mohra’ and ‘A Wednesday’ have been Box Office blockbusters,” he said.

“’Sarfarosh’ was a good film and even ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaron’ ran to empty theatres when it released and now it is called a cult movie. It was ahead of its times,” Shah said.

The actor will next begin shooting for Anup Kurien’s ’Hunt’ in Kerala.

“It is an adventure film about a marijuana farmer in Kerala being made in English and Malayalam,” he said.

Talking about his last outing ‘Bolo Ram’ where he did a cameo, Naseer said he did the film to support the director.

“I don’t consider the film anti-Muslim, but it wasn’t a healthy film. I will not do a role which is against my beliefs. An actor has no scope to express his own social or political beliefs, he is the source to express others’ beliefs,” he said.

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