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Naseer back on stage with two plays

Naseeruddin Shah is coming up with a new play this July to be directed by wife Ratna Pathak Shah. A Walk In The Woods is an adaptation of a 1988 play by Lee Blessing that was nominated for a Tony award and a Pulitzer.

art and culture Updated: Jun 30, 2012 15:11 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

Naseeruddin Shah is coming up with a new play this July to be directed by wife Ratna Pathak Shah. A Walk In The Woods is an adaptation of a 1988 play by Lee Blessing that was nominated for a Tony award and a Pulitzer. It revolves around an American and a Russian diplomat, who meet in Geneva for a peace conference, and depicts the relationship between the arms limitation negotiators against the backdrop of the Cold War.

“We’re turning them (the characters) into an Indian and a Pakistani working towards ending decades of hostility. Just when they’re on the verge of a breakthrough, a call recalls one of them,” informs Naseer.

Motley, his theatre group, is lining up another play, based on an essay by Samuel Beckett, on a man’s musings about his youth during a visit to his father’s grave. “It is disturbing and personal with flashes of dark humour. I don’t know how many people will sit through a one-hour monologue, but it helped me connect with my father. I often go to his grave and talk to him in a way I didn’t do when he was alive,” he admits.

The actor plans to tour with the plays to Canada and Pakistan towards the end of the year. Naseer expresses regret about turning down the Pakistani film, Bol (2011) due to date issues. “Maybe more people here would have seen it then,” rues Naseer, who has, however, played a small part in Zinda Bhag, another Pakistani film about illegal immigrants. “The film is being edited. Hopefully, it will come to India too,” he says.

Naseer is one of those rare movie stars who actively does theatre, Naseer insists it has nothing to do with the applause, but the fact that it makes you part of a team and it gives you an opportunity to engage with great writing.

Shah and Shaw
Naseer revisited the work of playwright George Bernard Shaw, with By George, a compilation of a one-act play, a poem and a larger central piece. “Ratna and I had acted in Village Wooing with Satyadev Dubey and I’d done How He Lied To Her Husband in college. I gave them to my students as exercises and was so delighted with their reading that I designed a production around them,” says Naseer, who also plans to revive Arms And The Man, that he’d staged 20 years ago