Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah form an indomitable team whether it is theatre, movies or at home
How is the theatre scene in Mumbai compared to that of Delhi?
Naseer: I wish there were more activities in Delhi. The Theatre Olympics are taking place in Delhi at the moment but when you look through papers, there’s nothing on it.
In Mumbai there is a choice of 30 plays any night and in a variety of languages. In English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and sometimes even in Bengali or Kannada. You have a choice of any play that you would want to explore.
Ratna: But it’s a nexus story that has evolved in over last 70-80 years. So it’s not going to happen overnight in Delhi. Unfortunately, now with television and film, all the recorded content have become such an important medium of expression.
What do you do when you are not rehearsing for a play or working in a movie?
Naseer: I would love to answer this in the words of a lady I met in Pakistan. She said “Bore hona kya hota hai? mei toh kabhi bore nahi hui zindagi mei. (What does getting bored mean? I have never got bored in my entire life.”
What she means is, she never dwells on the fact that she has got nothing to do. She finds something or the other to do. So that’s what we both do.
Ratna: We have a farm and we love pottering around there. I think it’s wonderful to do nothing.
I travel and also go out with friends.
I just be...that is my aim in life.
Naseer: We weed the lawn for five hours then come back with a backache. We watch our plants grow. It’s fabulous. I also play tennis, swim, watch a lot of movies and also take pleasure in reading.
She also works in the educational sector.
Why are you not directing more?
Naseer: I won’t… I might, but I doubt if I will feel confident enough to do so. I do have to erase that blot from my record too.. so I might.
I don’t have the energy in me to direct a movie and would rather choose to direct on the stage as I enjoy it more.
But don’t you think the impact of cinema is larger than theatre?
Naseer: You can’t do everything. If I do make another film, it won’t be a something which everyone will love. It will be a niche movie and something that I consider should be made. But I may/ may not have an audience that would appreciate it. So one should continue whatever meaningful work one is doing.
In cinema, I am a part of those projects that I feel are important. Short films with youngsters and kids are a wonderful experience. The reach of cinema is definitely larger, but that is limited to a certain kind of cinema. And I am not concerned with that kind of cinema.
Ratna: It’s now the internet world that has changed the picture completely. It’s a big change still and everyone is badly shaken, particularly the earlier generation of filmmakers who don’t know what to do. They haven’t learnt how to control the beast called the internet.
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