Thursday, 1 January 2015

And then One day... A memoir by Naseeruddin Shah

Hi, Not much to write here. The title pretty much says it all.

Ever since this book was published and I heard about it on the web waves, I wanted a copy of this. Unfortunately not so easy when you are in distant shores.

So the moment I land in India, I manage to grab a copy,

And me thinks... in my humblest opinion, its worth the 700 smackeroos I shelled out for the hard bound edition (too impatient to wait for the paperback or to order it cheaply off the web).


The book and some of the episodes I have read are rich and entertaining.  (I have already made a few revisions in my previous posts and included some quotes from this lovely book)

Let me admit upfront - its not going to be easy to read. Shah is frank, opinionated and fairly contemptful in his commentary and observations and goes against popular opinion and even... a little sacrilegious . (doesnt like the movie Sholay for e.g.)

The other frustration is the book does not talk about a lot more stuff that I (and others too, I think) would have been interested - perhaps he doesnt as those still alive have asked him not to. for e.g. no introduction to how he came to know Benjamin Gilani, No discussion on two of his best films - Jaane bhi do yaaron or the one with V Vinod Chopra at the beginning of their careers. No discussion about Smita or Shabana. (the one on Shabana seems to be a little too polite and courteous and not in tone with the rest of the book).  Perhaps in the next episode - which he has promised not to write.

The contempt he showers on the popular mainstream industry as well as some of the players are biting, and unnnecessary (and I personally would disagree as a great many of those players are possibly better and even more talented than anyone NSD or FTII has succeeded in producing or will ever do). What I particularly didn't like was how easily he shrugs off or wants to disown his own work in commercial mainstream films or some other work he's done. (eminently forgettable film - as he refers to, for one where he acted with a European luminary).  And thats one quality the mainstream actors (well, most of them) have where they KNOW most of the work they do, is shoddy or they are asked to behave inanely in the most banal projects - but they have become part of  this willingly and taken good compensation for it. So they are professional enough not to complain about it or disown their involvement.

However, in spite of all this, the book is still a must read.  For me part of this was a revelation about someone from my industry fraternity - a very well-liked, popular guy who's done well for himself and on his own steam. Most dont know he's related to this actor - and would be surprised, as the majority think he's Gujarati (!!!). The book doesnt talk about him, but I could appreciate the antecedents of this bright kid - and in some of the photographs of this memoir, the resemblances are striking.

The second is about how the author explores and discusses the struggles to understand what is the best way to act - right from method to the other process driven ones, and these are extremely illuminating. He also shares the advice he received from all the other luminaries - from Elkazy, to Dubey, to Benegal and others - a truly must read if you are into theatre or plan to become an actor. The only warning here, is that there is no conclusion on the best method yet.

And in spite of all the different foibles, the many ommissions, the disagreeable aspects its still a worthy read
Grab a copy - NOW!!!!

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