The next Shah

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Chat Imaad Shah on his role in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, doing theatre and producing music

His trademark wild mop of hair may have lost him the role of the lead character in The Reluctant Fundamentalist , but Imaad Shah appears to have taken it in his stride, going on to play Samir, a role scripted exclusively for him in the movie. In an e-mail interview, this 27-year-old actor and musician, son of veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah, talks about the character he plays, working with Mira Nair, his diverse interests and future plans.

Tell us about becoming a part of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Mira had called me to audition for the lead initially and though she loved the read we did, I had long hair back then and she felt that I looked too anti-establishment to play an Americanised Wall Street shark. I heard from her again a few months down the line saying there was another new character in the script that she wanted me to read for, and that turned out to be Samir, the guy I play in the film.

You tend to play dark, complex characters. Is that a reflection of your personality or do you find those roles more challenging?

I am naturally drawn towards such characters, maybe because of my personality and taste, but I also want to explore the entire spectrum as an actor.

The cliche but the oh-so-necessary question. Does being the son of a highly acclaimed actor impact the way the world perceives you?

I don’t think too much about this. Of course, the pressure I apply on myself to be really good at whatever I do is immense. But when you’re putting all your energy into doing the best you can and working towards constantly improving and reinventing yourself, I don’t think there is much time left to think about how the world “perceives” you.

What was it like working with Mira Nair?

It was great — she pushes her actors to create believable moments and expects only the best. We worked with a fair bit of improvisation too that ultimately gave the dialogue a very naturalistic style. She loves local culture and constantly wants it in her films.

What are the other things that drive you?

I work with a theatre company Motley and we are extremely active and travel a lot with our productions. I am also a music producer and am constantly working from my home studio. Of late I’ve been concentrating a lot on a new act that I’ve been touring with called Madboy/Mink . I team with singer Saba Azad and we play high energy electro funk and electro swing. I’ve also made a couple of short films that have travelled to festivals abroad.

What next?

I’ve worked on a couple more films last year which will be out sometime soon, including Q’s Tasher Desh . There are other projects being finalised. I want to make my own films and I’m working towards it.


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