Naseeruddin Shah is someone who is never afraid of speaking his mind. The veteran actor blames late actor Rajesh Khanna for introducing mediocrity in Hindi films in the 1970s.
“Nothing has changed in Bollywood. It is the same as it was 50 years ago. The photography and editing is better but the subjects are as puerile as they were in the 70’s,” says Naseeruddin Shah.
“In fact, it was the 70’s when mediocrity came in Hindi films. That’s when the actor called Rajesh Khanna joined the industry. For all his success, I think Mr Khanna was a very limited actor. In fact, he was a poor actor. Intellectually, he wasn’t the most alert person I have ever met. His taste ruled the industry,” says Shah about Khanna, who gave hits such as Aradhana (1969), Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) and Anand (1971).
Shah says that it was during the 70’s that the industry became less content driven. “The quality of script, acting, music and lyrics deteriorated. Colour came in. You could make a heroine wear a purple dress and hero a red shirt, go to Kashmir and make a movie. You didn’t need a story. This trend continued and I certainly think Mr Khanna had something to do with it because he was God in those days,” says the 67-year-old actor.
The new generation of actors, too, don’t impress Shah much. “Where are they? Please tell them to put their hands up and I would like to interrogate them. They claim they love cinema, but what do they create? People who just snap their fingers and choose any project they want are insecure. The guys who are financially secure for the coming ten generations are mostly insecure and they will not dare step out of line,” he says.
Watch Naseeruddin Shah in his recent short film:
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