Naseeruddin Shah: Just like in any other industry, there are camps in Hindi cinema too
In this edition of #Expressions, it is actor-filmmaker Naseeruddin Shah who has a no-holds-barred conversation with senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai
Few voices in Indian cinema command the widespread attention Naseeruddin Shah gets. His no-holds-barred approach and the ability to speak his mind make him a rare original voice in cinema. “Too many people are miserable with the work they do. On that front, I consider myself lucky, and a lot of actors should feel that way too,” said the actor in a chat sponsored by Airtel, and arranged as part of e-Expressions, a series of webinars organised by The New Indian Express group, and hosted by senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai.
Naseeruddin Shah took the digital plunge with Amazon Prime Video’s Bandish Bandits. “This series is like an antidote for the content we see on the web these days. There is no violence, gratuitous sex scenes, cuss words… Being on the small screen isn’t new to me. As an actor, my job remains the same irrespective of the medium,” said the 70-year-old actor, who was also seen in the direct-to-OTT film, Mee Raqsam (Zee5), in which he played an Islamic hardliner. “All characters are make-believe. You assume their skin and make it your own. I play each of my roles with the same conviction; the success or the lack of it lies in the writing,” said the actor.
After citing a lack of originality and relentless promotion of mediocre talent as big problems in Hindi cinema, Naseer addressed the elephant in the room. “After the death of the young actor (Sushant Singh Rajput), it is like everyone has descended to the lowest possible level, in terms of backbiting and running down the other,” said the Ishqiya actor, who found it worrisome that this was happening despite so many educated people joining the industry. “Many actors who are complaining about being cheated of a film here and there, are quite successful now and lead comfortable lives. What are they complaining about? Yes, just like in any other industry, there are camps here too, but to blame all the ills on nepotism is absurd.”
This debate, it seems, is here to stay, and the resentment against film families and star kids appears to be growing. “These incidents should teach every actor that the idea of ‘audience love’ is a myth. They don’t love us. They are there for the thrill. They don’t care whether you live or die,” said Naseeruddin, and went on to talk about how Aamir Khan’s trip to Turkey for scouting shooting locations got backlash in India. “Someone with 25 followers on Twitter decides to teach Aamir Khan a lesson now. For all we know, he might have been an Aamir fan all his life. Look at the kind of abuse the Bachchans received for just falling ill. The trolling happened to the epitome of a gentleman, who has been worshipped by four generations.”
As a veteran of this industry who has seen ups and downs, and one whose every word gets scrutinised, you can see why Naseeruddin feels this way. “Actors, no matter how much affection we receive, should not believe that the love we get is universal.”
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