From a satire like Aakrosh (1980) to a big-ticket multi-starrer like Main Hoon Na (2004) — Naseeruddin Shah has always managed to maintain a steady balance between mainstream cinema and offbeat, indie films. Even his latest release, Charlie Kay Chakkar Main, is a small-budget film that primarily stars newcomers.
Here, the 65-year-old talks about being inspired by younger artistes, how theatre in India can never be financially viable, and more.
On the one hand, you do out-and-out commercial films like Welcome Back, and on the other, you associate yourself with small-budget projects like your upcoming movie. What are your reasons for being part of these kinds of films?
While some films are made in difficult situations and with small budgets, others have a lot of money invested in them. I have been part of both kinds of films from the beginning of my career. While I do some of them, keeping in mind the kind of money being offered to me — just like everyone is working for money — I also feel a certain responsibility, to be part of movies that are not based on any formula, and are original.
You have always been supportive of theatre actors entering Bollywood.
I am glad to see a vast number of young talented girls and boys entering films. It is inspiring to work with them. Most of them are skillful and technically ahead, as compared to how informed actors of my generation were at that age. Even while working on my next, I was greatly touched by the idea of a group of youngsters, who were trying to make a thriller under extremely tough conditions, and with a very small budget.
Many people are of the opinion that it is easier for star kids to enter the film industry. What is your take on this?
Star kids have it easy, but again, no one can escape struggle in Bollywood. These kids might get an easy start, but over a period of time, every creative person has to go through heartbreaking struggle to achieve success.
After the release of Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota (2006), you said you will never direct a film again. Do you still feel the same?
I have to set that mistake right, but I don’t know how.
With corporate funding now making its way into theatre, do you think the medium has become more financially viable?
It has become fashionable, but can never be as viable as it is in the western countries.
You recently hosted a TV show on cricket. Would you ever like to take up an acting project on the small screen?
TV takes too much time, so probably not. But if the role is good, which is unlikely, the money is better, even more unlikely, and I have to work only eight hours a day on TV, which is impossible… so like I said, probably not.