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Naseeruddin Shah: “Each birthday now mainly means the tolling of the bell!”

Naseeruddin Shah Speaks  To Subhash K Jha  On Turning  71

You turned  71  on July 20. How   did you  bring in  your birthday? And what does the  birthday  mean to you?

Naseeruddin Shah: Each birthday now mainly means the tolling of the bell! I was shooting in the day and in the evening my children and a few close friends gathered to celebrate while I sat around as sober as a judge and watched indulgently!

What are your childhood recollections  of your birthday? Cakes, balloons,  songs???

Naseeruddin Shah: In childhood we never celebrated our birthdays as we’d be in school,at the most a card and an extra rupee for pocket money would arrive from home.

Sir, we are  living through uncertain times. You  recently went  though  a health  scare. As  the future remains uncertain what are  you thoughts  on  mortality and  immortality through one’s art?

Naseeruddin Shah: Thoughts of mortality have been in my head since I turned fifty.Each new decade introduces one to newer bodily frailties.And I want to get more work  done before my time is up. The thought of death doesn’t scare me but the possibility of becoming an invalid does.

You are without  doubt one  of  the  5 greatest actors of Indian cinema,  which are  your favourite performances? Mine are Sparsh, Albert Pinto , Masoom, Paar  and Pestonjee, I don’t like Jaane  Bhi Do Yaaron at all.

Naseeruddin Shah:  George Bernard Shaw when asked to name the three greatest writers of all time began his answer with “The other two are….”!!! Not saying that, though my favourites are Nishant, Sparsh Masoom,Mandi and Bombay Boys.

Sir, we  saw you  in two  brief roles Mee Raqsam and Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi …actually one  of them was   grief role since your character was dead at the start…  in the past year. When do  we see you  again  in  a  solid author-backed part?

Naseeruddin Shah: Probably never! However I’ve had more than my share of great parts and am perfectly happy now to participate in projects which I enjoy doing.

Theatre  has always been more fascinating to  you than cinema?Why?  And are  you looking at  another play soon?

Naseeruddin Shah: Theatre, like a tree, is a living thing which continues to organically evolve, unlike films where once it’s done it’s done. Also in theatre one can engage with the greatest texts in the world whereas in our cinema we have to mostly make do with the work of hacks and plagiarists. There are a couple of things that I have in mind for future theatre productions but everything now depends on Shri Covid ji Maharaj!

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