By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Naseeruddin Shah is having a ball in Lucknow shooting for Abhishek Choubey’s Dedh Ishqiya, the sequel to the well-received Ishqiya.
Says Naseer, “I’ve been here in Lucknow before to shoot for Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan, Shyam Benegal’s Junoon and Sudhir Mishra’s Yeh Woh Manzil Toh Nahin. But I haven’t been in Lucknow for some years now. The city has changed a lot. It’s great fun…My wife Ratna visits off and on.”
Naseer says the sequel is better scripted than Ishqiya. “Oh yes, Dedh Ishqiya has a better script. Being with Arshad Warsi is an added incentive. I have not seen his new film Jolly LLB yet. But there will be a screening soon.”
That his co-star is Madhuri Dixit adds to Naseer’s sense of enjoyment.
Says Naseer, “She’s quite wonderful. I have to confess I am a Madhuri Dixit fan. I am not embarrassed to say this. I rate her on a par wth Waheeda Rehman and Madhubala. We did Pankaj Parsher’s Raj Kumar and then we did M Hussain’s Gaja Gamini, the one that nobody understood. I was the only one who tried very hard to understand what was going in the film.I think Hussain Saab admired Madhuri. So he decided to make a movie around her. There was no story or anything. It was just a series of beautiful images, totally abstract and non-cinematic.I think he was trying to create a new language if cinema.”
Dedh Ishqiya is the first film that gives Naseer a chance to enjoy Madhuri’s presemce as a co-star. “I am glad Madhuri and I are finally doing a film that has a plot and some substance. In Gaja Gamini we had no scenes together. I am amazed to see her at work in Dedh Ishqiya. She is playing her age, very gracefully.”
Naseer is also had fun doing a brief role in Makarand Deshpande’s Sona Spa.
Says Naseer, “I enjoy watching his work.I just love Makarand’s work and his relentless energy …and his completely off-centre perception of the world. In his theatre productions he always manages to astonish me in one way or another.He had done Sona Spa as a play. I enjoyed the play. And when he made a film out of it he asked me to do a role.So I did it for a lark.”
Naseer warns it’s a brief role. “It was just half a day’s work. My part is a spoof on godmen. I just had to sit on a chair and pontificate, spouting big words that mean nothing. It’s about getting people to sleep for you while you’re busy elsewhere.I asked him how did this thought occur to Makarand and he said, ‘Well, if people can pray for you and perform pilgrimages for you why can’t people sleep for you?’ It was great fun to shoot the film. I hope it works. He has directed some films before , none of which was released. I am so glad Sona Spa is releasing. He is very gifted.And he’s been around long enough.”
Besides Sona Spa Naseer has not signed any new film. “I have no other film on hand. My primary interest is theatre at the moment.”