Naseeruddin Shah on why acting in films is a ‘soul-destroying’ job and taking carpentry lessons at the age of 62
Shakti Shetty (MID-DAY; November 7, 2012)
It’s surprising that Naseeruddin Shah’s sounds fed up of the Hindi film industry considering the fact that he’s one of the most accomplished actors in the country. As of now, he is back to his first love: theatre. Over the past weekend, he narrated short stories at the recently concluded literary festival in the city along with younger son Vivaan on the stage. In a candid chat backstage, Naseer saab shares his thoughts on cinema, his favourite actors and more…
Is it true that you’ve quit acting for good?
Quitting is not the correct word. What would I do with myself if I don’t act for a living? Just that I’m a bit fatigued working in front of the camera. It’s a very soul-destroying job. Besides, if it weren’t for the money and fame, nobody on earth would do it. At the moment, I’m enjoying theatre far more.
And what else is going on other than theatre?
I’m busy learning new stuff. Once you hit 60, you’ve got to try out newer things to stave off Alzheimer’s. So I’m also learning Urdu — I know how to speak but I’m learning how to read and write as well — along with carpentry!
Will you get back to directing films?
No. I’m not cut out for that. I tried it once with Yun Hota To Kya Hota but I failed miserably. Moreover, I couldn’t assert myself as a filmmaker. Perhaps I took it way too cavalierly. Fortunately, I realised that the attitude I have towards acting will not necessarily work with directing.
Would you call yourself media-shy?
I find giving interviews very boring because you’re expected to talk about yourself and to me that’s not the most interesting subject. I instead love talking about acting just like the media loves asking you how you feel — whether someone has died or someone is getting married. They just want to know how you feel!
Your film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro re-released recently. Are you fond of remakes?
No, not at all. They are remaking some films that shouldn’t have been made in the first place. Take Agneepath, for example. It’s a piece of crap that could have been easily avoided.
Finally, the actors you like…
I feel Irrfan, Manoj Bajpayee and Arshad Warsi are the three finest actors. Boman (Irani) is great too. Among the younger lot, I think Ranbir is promising. He seems like he knows what he’s doing. Among the girls, I’m afraid I can barely tell one from the other.