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Naseeruddin Shah’s back to theatre

art-and-culture Updated: Apr 06, 2011 11:42 IST
Shweta Mehta
Shweta Mehta
Hindustan Times
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When he started the Motley Theatre Group (MTG) with Benjamin Gilani in 1979, Naseeruddin Shah had a wish list. The duo would perform a number of plays by leading playwrights such as Shakespeare’s

Julius Caesar

, Samuel Beckett’s

Waiting For Godot

and Herman Wouk’s

The Caine Mutiny Court Martial

among several others. Thirty-two years later, Naseeruddin will strike the last two plays off his list when he dons the directorial hat this Saturday.



With MTG, Naseeruddin is presenting a new play,

By George!

which is a collection of three short pieces by George Bernard Shaw –

Village Wooing, How He Lied To Her Husband

and

English Pronunciation

. “The three aren’t connected. One play is about wooing and the second is about the aftermath of marriage. The third is a poem on the oft-touched upon peculiarity of the English language,” he explains, adding, “They’re three funny pieces that make for an enjoyable evening.”



Naseeruddin Shah By George!

is a family affair, with Naseeruddin’s wife Ratna Pathak, taking charge of set design and elder son Imaad handling music, while also acting in one of the plays. However, daughter Heeba has not been cast. “It would have been very convenient, but I couldn’t find the right part for her,” laughs Naseeruddin.



Post the success of

7 Khoon Maaf

(2011), younger son Vivaan too, has been missing. “He’s busy with his exams. After that, we’ll let him decide whether he’s more inclined to theatre or cinema,” he says.



Naseeruddin is dedicating more of his time to theatre now, with only one film in hand, which he is yet to start shooting for. “I intend to direct more plays this year. After

By George!

I’m directing

Arms And The Man

, another one of Shaw’s works. It will be staged in May,” he notes.



With his wish list of plays complete, the actor-director plans to shift his focus to Indian literature, saying, “I started discovering it only when I was 50, and I kick myself for it. But better late than never.” Naseeruddin aims to further explore the works of Ismat Chughtai, whose stories have inspired previous ventures,

Ismat Apa Ke Naam

and

Manto...Ismat Haazir Hain

. He also wants to adapt works by writers like Munshi Premchand, Kamtanath, Saadat Hasan Manto and Mohan Rakesh among others. “What I’ve touched upon so far is only the tip of the iceberg,” he affirms.