Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, who recently opened his innings as a director is worried about falling acting standards and says he does not have happy memories of all the directors he worked with in his acting career.
"Not all my directors were good. There were only some who could help me when I was facing acting troubles. A director's job is to relax the actors, put them at ease so that they can perform without inhibitions," says the thespian.
"I believe that there are no weak actors. There are only weak directors. There were a lot of films I did at one point in time, which I hated doing and hated watching."
Naseer held rehearsals for all his actors before he started shooting his maiden film
Though he refuses to name the "bad" directors as he does not want to "offend" anyone, Naseer names Shyam Benegal, Gulzaar and Sai Paranjpye as those who helped him overcome his "troubles" everytime he struggled with a shot.
Now that he has embarked on his directorial journey, he has something equally interesting to say about his fellow-actors.
"I do not know when the standard of acting will improve in our industry. Here, actors feel they can start performing anytime they want. Elkazi (Ebrahim Alkaazi-the celebrated former director of National School of Drama) would say that no musician, singer or true artist would perform in front of an audience without practise. But actors feel they do not need to practise."
This explains why Naseer held rehearsals for all his actors before he started shooting his maiden film.
"There were newcomers in my film. Saroj Khan was there who had never acted before. So rehearsals were a must. Believe me, Saroj was the most industrious actor of all. I think some of the present day actors should take a cue from her," he says sarcastically.
Having directed both on stage and now films, Shah feels direction in cinema is a lot more easier than in theatre as you are "closer" to the performers in the former.
"The art is basically same but it is a little more challenging in theatre as you can't pan the camera and focus on your performers. You cannot direct the viewer's eye. On stage, the onus is on the actors to draw the audience's attention to what they are doing," says the 56-year-old actor.
Calling theatre his "therapy" to survive the trials and tribulations of life, Naseer says, "Theatre is my passion. It is my life and blood. I can never leave it. I believe that theatre is not an actor's medium. It is a director's medium. But even then, I certainly like acting more than direction when on stage."
The plain-speaking actor whose directorial debut film got mixed reviews says critics' opinions mean little to him.
"Personally, their opinion never mattered to me. Critics are free to have a take on any film but their opinion is just like any other ordinary man on the street," he says with a shrug.
"I seek collective opinions. The way an audience reacts on seeing my film, the observations that they have to make are the kind of opinions that I am concerned about."
But he promptly admits that Yun Hota... has not been completely flawless!.
"I'm not a great technical guy. I will say that I know a little more than a layman. I am sure there will be some flaws in Yun Hota... that can be overlooked. And I hope to be technically more steady next time around," he ends on a positive note.