Naseeruddin Shah, one of the most well-known actors in India, turns 67 today. But we know this man is not limited to being a mere parallel cinema actor. A 25-year-old youngster who started his career as a nobody in Nishant, Shah has over the years proved that he can straddle both the worlds simultaneously – parallel and commercial cinema. With his onscreen personas as varied as a menace-exuding shayar in Sarfarosh, a lovable lech in The Dirty Picture, and a nameless representative of the common people in A Wednesday, Naseeruddin Shah is nothing if not versatile. As a means of celebrating the birthday of this great artiste, here’s what he means to the millennials, and his five films from recent years which remain in our minds.
Naseeruddin Shah seems to have a way with Urdu poetry. The way he recites it is music to ears. In Sarfarosh, Shah played a poet and a terrorist in hiding. He was eerily compelling in mixing charm and malice together. Aamir Khan might have been the lead in Sarfarosh, but it was Naseeruddin who actually stole the show.
An important film set in the backdrop of 2002 Gujarat riots, Naseeruddin Shah played the head of a Parsi family who finds itself embroiled in the heinous communal violence. Shah did a stellar job in depicting the pain of a father looking for his missing son. It is an underrated performance of Shah and deserves to be seen by any fan.
In Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool, based on Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, Naseeruddin Shah played one of the corrupt cop duo along with his old friend Om Puri and absolutely nailed it. Shah is not known as a comedy actor, but like almost everything else, he does it pretty well too. Om Puri and Shah were the only comic relief in this very dark film.
Shah reprised his Ishqiya role in this film and delivered one of the best performances in recent times. It was a delight to hear the elegant, poetic couplets coming out of his paan stained mouth and his sardonic smile made the experience all the more pleasing.
In this film, Naseeruddin Shah voiced the concern of common people, who were terrified of constant terrorist attacks in the country. Shah epitomised in this gritty performance what a common man can do if he loses his patience. It was Shah alone who carried this film on his shoulders and sent artistes like Anupam Kher on sidelines.