Naseeruddin Shah talks to gomolo.in on his next film, Barah Aana and his recent releases and having no plans for the future
I remember that it was the year 1960 when aanas and paisa were changed into naya paisa and rupees. In 1960 I think, I was in class seven. Not really it was some other class. But the aana persisted for a while, but it´s been ages since we last heard this term. We do get to hear terms like Chavanni and Atthani but Barah Aana we just fail to listen it. If you were to get Barah Aana in place of a rupee then it depicts that something is amiss somewhere. And that´s precisely the title of the film implies, it means short changed.
Does it bring elements of nostalgia to you?
I somehow feel nostalgic at the memory of Barah Aana. The shape of Duanni used to be very cute and beautiful; it was a square coin with rounded edges. I don´t know why, but I used to like it a lot.
Ok, coming to the plot of the film, how is the plot of the film significant to the name of the film?
The film is about three people who begin to feel that there is something incomplete in their life. All the three guys are outsiders living in Mumbai. As I am sure the driver who has to drive his memsaab in her air-conditioned Mercedes to a party, and after she reaches the venue, the driver is told that don´t switch on the AC. It´s hot and humid outside and the driver is sweating and memsaab is busy enjoying the party. And after the party gets over he drives her back to her home and then the driver finally reaches his kholi. It surely depicts that something is wrong somewhere. Even an insensitive person will get the feeling that something is wrong somewhere and it´s something that is not balanced. Nature did not intend this. So this is what the subject of the film is trying to probe into. It´s a film of their lives which is very accurate and compassionate because the writer and director of the film Raja Menon has observed and felt this very closely for people like this. A waiter! What kind of a job is a person supposed to be doing? No one in his childhood says that i will become a waiter when I grow up or I will become a driver when I grow up or will become a chowkidaar. Nobody dreams of these things. As professions they are basically stopgap professions. I think he has felt great compassion for such people and tried to look at from their point of view. He has basically adopted their point of view and has brought this story. To redress the imbalance the three characters come out with a concrete step, which is whether right or wrong would be decided by the audience.
The film also brings together the combination of you and Vijay Raaz after Monsoon Wedding, what do you have to say about this?
It´s great combination; it should be more often (laughs). I am a great fan of Vijay Raaz, which I have always been. I consider him as a very good and talented actor and I would love to work with him more. Right now he is busy making money and I don´t resent that, hope God grants him more. But at the same time I would also pray for him that his wish of doing good film and theatres remains alive.
I have observed one strange coincidence - Maharathi, A Wednesday, Firaaq and Barah Aana happened in a very short phase, I am pretty sure that such a thing has never happened in your career before.
No and that´s because I have normally done fewer films and they have taken longer to get released. All the four films were made last year only, in fact A Wednesday had to wait as long as one year to get released. In fact I had shot A Wednesday, Shoot On Sight and Maharathi almost back to back practically. Barah Aana happened after these films were canned. For me it´s a good thing that all the films are releasing one after the other and another good thing being that Barah Aana and Firaaq are releasing on the same day. It does happen that for two years none of your films are visible and then there comes a phase that five of your films get released in a very short span of time.
So I guess it would be wise to say that audience is set for Naseeruddin Shah film festival at the box office?
More than their fill, I hope they don´t get indigestion (laughs).
Please tell us a bit about the plot of the film, it´s being said that you hardly have any dialogue in the film?
Yes and that´s because the dialogues are not needed. The character does not say anything only because he does not needs to say anything. It´s not as if he has a problem or he is deaf or mute. He does not say anything only because he does not need to. He says only when it´s required to. I think it´s a very interesting aspect to incorporate in a character. Never have I had a role, which had lots and lots of dialogue. There is nothing like that, which requires showing anger and stuff like that. The character speaks only when it is necessary and he only speaks twice or thrice in the whole film. For me as an actor that was a wonderful stimulating challenge not as difficult as it sounds but it definitely was a very interesting role to play.
Paresh Rawal recently made a statement that Naseeruddin Shah is the best actor in the whole world. What´s your take on his reaction?
Well, Paresh Rawal is very generous and it´s very sweet of him to say that. I don´t have any such delusion. I am quite happy with what I am and I am happy that people like Paresh have a regard for me and it is mutual. What more can I say?
But don´t you feel that it´s true?
No, it´s not true.
Who for you is the best actor in the world?
There is no such thing as the best actor. Every actor keeps growing with every passing day in his life. You never reach your true potential, as an actor because every day of your life you are different therefore there can be nothing, which can be called as the perfect performance. If I were to do Sparsh or Mirza Ghalib again, they would be different performances, whether they would be better or not I don´t know but they would be different and that´s only because I am a different man today then I was when I did Sparsh or Masoom or when I did A Wednesday even so I think there can not a thing which can be dubbed as the perfect actor. The closest to that ever has been Mr. Charles Chaplin who I believe was sent by God to show actors what is possible and what they will never achieve. That´s why there is only one Charles Chaplin. There can never be another. God sent him.
Is there anyone in the present lot of actors about whom you feel acts good?
Yes there are plenty. There are lots of them.
And how about people like SRK or Salman Khan, how will you rate them as?
I don´t really watch their films. I don´t enjoy those films. I saw Om Shanti Om which was great fun but that was because of Farah Khan who is a very zany and wonderful director. I have not seen too many of the recent films off late. I saw Delhi 6 and I liked it.
Don´t you think that its time you start your second directorial venture?
I don´t know. It might happen; it might not happen. I don´t know. At the moment I am not planning anything. And I don´t believe in talking about my dreams. I only talk about my plans and there are no plans at the moment.
Finally, one thing which you feel you have not achieved and want to achieve in future, which would be that one thing?
To get the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award, I would really like to have one. Not even an Oscar, Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award is closest to my heart.
Thanks a lot.
Thanks. Please go and see Barah Aana.