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Monday, June 01, 2020

Naseeruddin Shah: Not missing commercial movies; more challenging work on web

Naseeruddin Shah has shared screen space with Vikrant Massey in the short film Half Full.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: April 15, 2020 12:19:34 pm
Naseeruddin Shah Naseeruddin Shah’s short film Half Full is streaming on ZEE5. (Photo: Express Archives)

Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, who has appeared in short films like Interior Cafe Night, Rogan Josh and The Wallet among more, is back with yet another short film titled Half Full, streaming on ZEE5.

In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Shah spoke about the digital medium and the creative freedom that young minds get while working in the medium. The actor said that he was drawn to Half Full because “it’s a very simple and pure script, and it’s written from the heart by Karan Rawal.” He added, “It’s not been made by some producers who would insist on their vision being shown rather than the writers.”

“It’s very flattering for me to be told by youngsters that they still need me,” Naseeruddin Shah said. The actor, who has won three National Awards, added, “These short films being made for the web are very important because you are giving young filmmakers a chance to exercise their abilities, without necessarily taking the risk of either a financial loss or the disruption of a career. You don’t have to please a producer, worry about a release or if the film will make money or not. And thus, a whole lot of very good films are being made.”

Shah, who will soon be seen in Amazon Prime Video’s Bandish Bandits, also spoke about the financial aspect of the digital model and how it could affect the creative flow. “When the big money enters into the picture, that’s when everything goes to hell. I think that at the moment, big money is not involved. I think it’s a blessed time and we should make the most of it,” the actor remarked.

Comparing the digital space to the film industry, Naseeruddin Shah said, “I don’t think it will ever be that crushing a situation as the one that exists in our film industry where a director and his unit is just squeezed dry by the producer and distributors. The days of three hour-four hour epics with two intervals are gone forever. And I don’t think they will ever come back and no one has the time or the patience to sit through those kind of movies. So I think short films are the future.”

Shah is also considering other digital projects, and he even plans on directing a short film. “I will certainly do them (work on other digital projects) if I find them worthwhile. I am not exactly deluged with work from the film industry. And in any case, the film industry is at a halt. It has been since the demonetization, and I am not missing commercial movies because one is getting to do more interesting and challenging work on the web. I will certainly do more of these short films. I may even attempt to make one myself because I don’t have the confidence to attempt a full-length film,” the actor shared.

While many are struggling to cope with self-isolation, Naseeruddin Shah shared that his life hasn’t changed “drastically” since the lockdown started. “I anyway spend a great deal of time at home. Even when I am working, I do find the time as I love spending time at home with my family. I am finding the time to do a lot of things I haven’t been able to do, or was too lazy to get down to or couldn’t find the time for. And I am doing those, including helping around the house.”

This unprecedented time has forced us all to think about the things that could change after we come out on the other side. We asked the same to Shah, who believes that Bollywood is too stubborn to make any changes. He said, “The film industry is too much of a ‘chikna ghada’ (brazen) to let anything change. The moment things are normal, I think we will be back to making the same old crappy films.”

The 69-year old actor said that when it is safe to go out, he would love to “get together with my theatre company, read a play, laugh a lot, have a meal and drink together.”

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