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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Naseeruddin Shah has reached a stage in his astonishing career where he's just happy being part of projects that make some difference to the quality of his and our life. That's why he's pleased with his latest release Parzania.
"At this juncture in my career I'm not looking to give great performances. I feel fatigued carrying a film on my shoulders. I've done enough of that. I now want to do projects that I'll enjoy, that need to be made and which need my support. Parzania was one such project. My heart went out to the parents of the boy who got lost. I never doubted director Rahul Dholakia's sincerity, probably because I hadn't seen his first film," laughs Naseer. "He kept that vital fact under close wraps. I happened to catch his first film Kehta Ha Dil Baar Baar on TV one day recently. I got a bit worried."
He grows serious. "But I never doubted Rahul's sincerity. I've always found it easier and more rewarding to work with a director who has no proven record. Come to think of it, I've never regretted working with first-time directors. But I've had a bad time sometimes with tried-and-tested directors."
Naseer feels the communal issue in Gujarat had to be addressed. "Parzania isn't raking up old wounds. It reminds people of how a crisis can occur to the most unsuspecting people. Apart from that, the film sticks rigorously to the facts. Both the sides are shown to be at fault. We haven't over-stepped the mark. No one knows where the incident at Godhra began. It's all speculation. I as an Indian Muslim-as you called me-have never felt short- changed or victimized. I don't think the majority of Muslims and Hindus feel any grudge against one another. By and large, these communal riots are not spontaneous eruptions of hatred. They're planned and motivated. In Parzania all we're saying is the guilty should be brought to book and the innocent shouldn't suffer."
Naseer is scepctical of cinema being designated as art. "At least in Hindi cinema I see no real artiste. Parzania shouldn't be perceived as a work of art. Its flaws should be over-looked for its sincerity of purpose."
Naseer agrees the English language in a film about the Gujarat riots is a glaring flaw. "I don't know why he did it. Rahul aimed Parzania at an international audience. I guess he didn't have much hope of getting it released in India. But yes, I think the language in Parzania is as much of a ghastly flaw as the rickshawala in The City of Joy who spoke in English. Characters who would speak in Hindi should have been speaking in Hindi in Parzania."
Naseer is all praise for his co-star Sarika. "We've earlier done two films together which hardly anyone saw. One was Jalal Agha's Nirvan and the other was Ketan Anand's Shart where I played a psychopathic killer. Sarika was one of the girls I killed. I always thought she was an under-rated actress. She elevates Parzania with her performance. She's a revelation."
When the topic of his lately injured son Imad comes up Naseer falls silent. He finally speaks up. "Obviously it was a painful time. To give up my work until he begins to recover was an easy decision. There was no dilemma about it at all. I was looking forward to a television cricket quiz that was to be aired during the World Cup. And I had to leave Milan Luthria's film Hat Trick. One has to have one's priority right...Thankfully he's recovering. He moves around on a walker inside the house. When he wants to go out he does so on a wheelchair. His left leg is still healing. He's healing well..."
Remind Naseer that it was a tough time for him, and he replies, "It was tougher on my son. He has gone through a lot."
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