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'Cinema can't change society'

Naseeruddin Shah has stopped thinking about B'wood films. Visit IFFI 2005

india Updated: Dec 01, 2005 19:24 IST

By his own admission, actor Naseeruddin Shah has stopped regarding Bollywood movies as a continuing career option.

"I have stopped thinking about these films," he says. That is pretty obvious in the handful of acting assignments that he chooses to accept these days.

At the 36th International Film Festival of India, Naseer has a couple of entries - Nagesh Kukunoor's Iqbal, which is competing for a Golden Peacock, and Rahul Dholakia's Parzania, which premiered in Panaji on Saturday.

"Nothing can change the mainstream Mumbai movie industry. It is too entrenched in its habits. It is only interested in making a lot of money for a lot of people. Of course, we don't need to kill it, but this is not the kind of cinema that I am interested in doing anymore," he says.

In fact, Naseer does not see the medium of cinema as we know and use it today to be an agent of social change. "I have always had doubts about cinema as an art, as a means of social change," he argues.

"Cinema can at best be a record of its time. It is the only medium that has that power because it is a synthesis of various art forms," he adds.

That is precisely why he opted to do a film like Parzania.

"It gives us a picture of the times without pointing fingers at anybody. It is not targeted against any community. It is a portrait of a family that suffered as a result of the Gujarat riots. It is a healthy effort and people who think it is one-sided are entitled to their views," says Naseer.

Was he at any point apprehensive of exactly how Parzania would shape up?

"I was a little worried about the riot scenes," he admits. "To do such sequences you need Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg's budget or his imagination. But I always believed in the project."

Any worries that the film might run into trouble with the thought police of the land?

"Well if somebody wants to create trouble there is nothing one can do. Even when a film talks about lesbians - and that is hardly an issue - mobs take to the streets, attack movie halls and tear down posters. It is difficult to stop such mobs."

Is his disillusionment with Bollywood the principal reason why he is directing his own film, Yun Hota To Kya Hota?

"No, I am not trying to prove anything to anybody," he says. "I am making the film because I have a good story. The film has no profound vision. I am only a storyteller."

With only two days of shooting left, the film is expected to be ready by April next year.

"I really don't know when it will eventually hit the screens. But I know people are waiting with their claws unsheathed to tear me apart if I slip up. But I am not worried. I can defend myself," says the actor-turned-director.

First Published: Nov 28, 2005 14:20 IST