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Naseeruddin Shah On Playing Dead



 One  of  the many pleasures  of watching  Seema Pahwa’s  directorial debut in Ramprasad Ka Tehrva is to see the great Naseeruddin Shah as  the dead  patriarch of  the family.

Naseer  of course lives the part  of the dead man.

 I asked him  what it  felt like to  be part  of a film about  a death in the  family.And isn’t death finally  a tragedy only for the  one who’s dead?

Says  Naseer, “Death is not a tragedy for the one who’s dead, he’s oblivious for ever, it’s a tragedy for those left behind if they let it become one. There are also people who find lessons in death. I personally feel it’s the most unimportant part of life and ironically the only inevitable part.”

  As for playing dead, “Playing dead is easy. You only have to lie still and hold your breath during the shot! Luckily I didn’t have to do any of that. My director Seema Pahwa said she wouldn’t be able to bear seeing me with cotton in my nose lying on a pyre.”

  Naseer  reveals Seema used  a body double for Naseer on the pyre. “It’s not me in the shots of the body, whose face you never see. I was very moved by this affectionate gesture.It reminded me of Gulzarbhai saying he wouldn’t be able to bear seeing Ghalib dead(Naseer  played Mirza Ghalib in Gulzar’s series).”

  Naseer  is  all  a praise  for Seema as  a director.  “Working with a trusting director like Seema was a treat.She was totally on the ball, certain of what she wanted and she won the trust of everyone in the unit.She had no pretensions of making a great film ,like many of our dilettantes  do, just a desire to do what she wanted and to do it well.”

    What does Naseer  have to look forward  to  this year?

He replies with  mock-solemnity, “There doesn’t seem to be much to look forward to in the new year . But I have plans for a couple of things on stage .Ismat Apa Ke Naam Part 4 is one. After the lockdown eased I acted in a webseries called  Kaun Banega Shekhavati?  And I  did tiny parts in films by Dibakar Bannerjee and Shakun Batra.”

Naseer, considered  by  many to be  the greatest  living actor in India,  is hopeful  about this year.  “There’s no way 2021 could be worse that 2020 but there’s always Donald Trump!!!”

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