Naseeruddin Shah surprises Pakistanis at Karachi Literature Festival

Tuesday, 8 March 2022 (14:50 IST)
Mumbai/Karachi: At the end of the Karachi Literature Festival, there was a pleasant surprise in store for Pakistanis. As the fest drew to a close joining a repertoire of international speakers was veteran Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah.

Connecting via an online session the actor spoke on various topics such as his acting inspirations, life stories, and even revealed that there was a time his wife and actor Ratna Pathak was jealous because of the many offers he'd get as just like him, she too was not “massala film material”.

According to The Express Tribune, Shah spoke of his career and said that he felt extremely lucky to have survived the industry detailing his journey from mainstream to parallel cinema. He talked about why he took up commercial work despite his reservations.

Shah acknowledged the role of poets like Mirza Ghalib in his creative journey, while emphasizing his love for literature festivals. He also told the audience how his craft is more inspired and defined by Hollywood due to his unsupervised exposure to English films at an early age.

“My father was a deputy collector and we were allowed to go into any cinema hall and watch films. He would let us watch all English films and Indian films (if they were Dilip Kumar's). "He never came along. I would end up comparing Uran Khatola to The Wizard of Oz, a film like Azaad to The Prisoner of Zenda. I could see clearly the problems with Hindi films from back then. But I also knew that if I wanted to be an actor, I'll have to work with similar problems. In the early 70s, Hindi cinema had also started churning out serious films and I made a mission to find a way to work in them.”

When the host ,Shahjaz Sharjeel, drew parallels between Delhi and Lucknow being India's cultural centers like Karachi and Lahore being Pakistan's, to ask if Shah felt more at home in Lucknow and enjoyed its popular cuisines, the actor said, “I think Hyderabad's cuisine is better than Lucknow's. People forget Hyderabad when talking about Muslim culture in India. It is such a clean place with so much kindness. Lucknow has passion and Delhi has potential but Hyderabad has civilized people and good biryani.”

He added, “However, I myself am from Meerut, my father spent a few years in Lucknow but I don't have many memories there. My connection with Lucknow has to do more with the films I've had to shoot in the city. Umrao Jaan (1981) was shot in Lucknow. These days, it's become more like a film studio. It does have rich food too, albeit, for me Hyderabadi cuisine is the best – with no disrespect to anyone hailing from Lucknow, of course.”

Coming to his family, which includes his wife actress Ratna Pathak, daughter Hiba and sons Imaad and Vivaan, he said that his entire family was into entertainment.

“My wife Ratna is a busier actor than I. But there was a time when I had all this producers coming to our place to sign me and she felt unhappy at being ignored for roles by them. But then I said to her that your time will come when you are older. The same goes for my daughter Hiba. Both Ratna and Hiba are not masala film material. But on the other hand, I worked in commercial cinema despite not having the looks of a hero. But then I used to think to myself that there are also actors like Anthony Quinn,” he said.

"Imaad was good at cricket but one day instead of bringing a bat in his hand, he brought a guitar. He writes songs with feelings and also acts. He is in a band with Saba Azad now, who sings. My younger son Vivaan also acts,” he shared.

Vivaan acted opposite Priyanka Chopra in the hit "7 Khoon Maaf". (UNI)

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