Naseeruddin Shah has rediscovered his funnybone in the forthcoming web-series Kaun Banegi Shikharwati. In an interview with me he admits he is tired of playing serious roles. “I got typecast as a serious actor too damn early in my career and have struggled to shake off that mantle, it was too heavy to lug around but despite my efforts I never got the chance to perform in as many comedies as I would have liked to. But maybe that was also a disguised blessing considering the kind of comedies we make in Mumbai.”
We haven’t seen too much of Naseer’s impeccable comic timing since Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. The maestro of the performing arts feels comedy is a serious business. “Comedy is way more difficult that than the serious stuff, in fact I always tell my students that the easiest thing an actor is asked to do is to cry –and all actors LOVE to cry!–but even some experienced and excellent actors have trouble laughing .Watch Sanjeev Kumar in Shatranj Ke Khiladi, for example.”
Many actors, feels Naseer, don’t understand the mechanics of laughter. “What happens to the breath and so on when one laughs. Crying is easy because the actor can just recall a past incident, however disconnected the context may be, and the tears begin to flow. Serious actors are held in higher regard because they are.. well.. serious! Mehmood sahab in my opinion was one of the most gifted actors Hindi cinema has ever had yet he is remembered only as a comedian.”
Naseer has some lovely ladies for company in Kaun Banegi Shikharwati. “Lara Dutta is a delightful surprise since I’d never seen her work but she has a WOW personality and of course she’s a gorgeous looker and wonderful actor. Soha Ali Khan has an innate sweetness which I suspect masks a fiery temper-though I didn’t see any evidence of it! Kritika Kamra, of the sunny smile has something in her eyes which makes you look at her twice, she’s terrifically confident and I think she could play an introvert as well as she has done this part. And Anya Singh radiates a kind of mystery and innocence, though I hope she doesn’t begin to take herself too seriously and milk these qualities. What she needs as a breakout role is of a foul mouthed woman of the streets!”
Naseer Saab, who has worked in most of his best works with Shabana Azmi, is all praise for his new co-stars, “All these girls were wonderful and affectionate and caring and sincere about their work and I’d happily work with any or all of them again.”
Naseer has lavish praise for his colleague who co-stars with him in Shikharwati. “Raghuvir Yadav, I have been a fan of forty years now ever since I saw him on stage in Delhi and couldn’t recognise him the next time I saw him. His performance in Massey Sahab, I consider one of the finest in Hindi cinema.”
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