The Epitome of Candidness Whenever we think of the finest veteran actors of India, one of the first names that pops into our minds in Naseeruddin Shah. He is a prominent figure in Indian Parallel Cinema, where his awespiring performances have made him a fan favorite. While the actor has, on several occassions, stated his dislike for commercial bollywood films, he has acted in quite a few of them and garnered a great deal of appreciation. What makes him truly interesting though, is the fact that he is a very innovative and experimenting individual. He started out with art cinema, then acted in commercial cinema. He has done television, anchored cricket shows and also performed theatre. Not only that, he also appeared in a number of international films, most notably in the Hollywood comic book adaptation, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where he played Captain Nemo. Born on 20th Of July, 1950 in Barabanki in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Naseeruddin Shah celebrated his 68th birthday on Friday last week.
Throughout his childhood, the actor was fascinated with films and cricket. As a child, he loved western classics and war movies. He was exposed to films like On the Waterfront, Citizen Kane, Zorro Rides Again, etc. In an interview with Cover Story, Shah explained the lack of hindi movies in his youth being due to his school not showing hindi films and his father’s supervision on what they watched as a kid. While there were actors in the hindi film industry he appreciated, like Motilal, Balraj Sahni and Yakub, none of the Indian actors really inspired him. He was rather influenced by actors like Anthony Quinn, Paul Muni and Spencer Tracy. Shah has been very open about the fact that he shared a troubled relationship with his father, Aley Mohammed Shah. Like most parents, his father struggled to accept his son’s poor performance in academics. Their relationship worsened further when 19-year-old Shah plunged into the world of theatre at Aligarh Muslim University, instead of concentrating on academics.
However, gradually with time and the birth of his own children, Shah has gained a better understanding of his father. Back in 2014, Naseeruddin Shah joined the long line of actors who had chronicle their lives. The Veteran actor’s autobiography, And Then One Day, has the actor narrating his life from childhood to the beginning of his acting career in Bollywood. The book ends with the of his marriage to the actress Ratna Pathak Shah and his daughter (from his first marriage) returning to India. Walking down memory lane, Shah recounts episodes from his years at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Delhi’s National School of Drama (NSD) and the Film and Television Institute at Pune (FTII). The book also details some stormy romances.