Happy 70th birthday, Naseeruddin Shah (or “Naseer”, as I know him inside my head)

Posted on July 23, 2020

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He’s just rolling a cigarette and listening a lot in ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, and he still manages to paint a portrait of a complex, self-absorbed man who’s hard to hate even though he abandoned his son.

In 2008, I spoke to a bunch of “multiplex-movie makers” about their predecessors from the 1970s and 80s, when this kind of film used to be called “parallel cinema”. I asked if the multiplex movement had thrown up “stars” like the quartet of Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah. Navdeep Singh said, “Not quite yet, but there’s a bunch of people on their way: Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, KK Menon, Konkona Sensharma. I might even include Abhay Deol in that list.” Anurag Kashyap said, “Yes, you have Irrfan today (though the smaller filmmakers can’t afford him any more), along with Sharman Joshi, Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak.” Rajat Kapoor named many of the same names and added, “But these actors are at the beginning of their careers, so let’s see how they would be remembered after 10 years, when they have a significant body of work behind them.”

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