Happy Birthday Naseeruddin Shah: His birthday is on July 20. However Naseer himself says he does not know the actual date and maybe 20th July was chosen for school admission convenience. However since its his official birthday, let us, while wishing him a happy birthday celebrate it by catching the trivia train to travel this versatile actor’s amazing career.
In his autobiography “And then one day” we learn about Naseer’s early life. He joined Aligarh Muslim University and plunged into the world of theatre, despite his fathers wish that he take up studies seriously. At just 19, he married a Pakistani medical student, Parveen Murad (also known as Manara Sikri) who was 15 years older. The marriage was opposed by both families and the girl’s family thought it could be only infatuation. Marriage happened only after Naseer agreed for a hefty alimony in case of divorce. They immediately had a baby but drifted away from each other when Naseer left for Delhi to join NSD and Parveen left for London with their child.
Naseer later met Ratna Pathak when both were acting in a play by legendary theatre director Satyadev Dubey. It was love at 1st sight for Naseer, and it happened at an unlike place – a sugarcane juice stall when he was discussing the play with Dubey and saw her. They had a live-in relationship for several years as it took him time to accumulate the alimony money to formalise his divorce with Parveen.
Once when Ratna and Naseer were dating they had gone to a fancy restaurant at the Taj which had two type of menus, one with price of the dishes for the gentlemen and one without the prices for the lady. The waiter by mistake gave the wrong one to each, and Ratna says she tried to signal Naseer with her eyes while he kept on ordering various dishes. Finally when the waiter went to place the order she told him and both started frantically counting the money they had, which was only Rs 400/-.
Being private persons, they avoided the pomp and show of a big marriage and had a quiet registered marriage in the presence of Ratna’s mother, Dina Pathak. Naseer’s and Ratna’s marriage continues to be one of the most stable and happy ones in the history of the film industry.
Naseer had a dream-to play Gandhi. He even auditioned for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi-the Movie. However, apparently Ben Kingsley was already signed and auditions were only a marketing gimmick so that later there would be no criticism that Indian actors were not tried out. Much later, in 2000, he played Gandhi in the movie Hey Ram.
Naseer who has been awarded the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan by the Government has won National Awards for acting thrice. For Sparsh and Paar he won the National Film award for best actor and for Iqbal he won the National film award for Best supporting actor. He has won the Filmfare best actor award thrice, for Aakrosh, Chakra and Masoom. He has as many as 15 nominations as well in 3 different categories, details of which are as follows;
Best actor; Baazaar, Sparsh and A Wednesday
Best Supporting actor; Junoon, Katha, Mandi, Sir, China Gate, Iqbal, Nazaayaz and Dirty picture
Best villain; Mohra, Chaahat, Sarfarosh and Kriish
Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota was the directorial debut of Naseer. The terrific star cast included Konkona, Irrfan, Boman Irani, Paresh Rawal and Ratna Pathak Shah. Naseer experimented with 4 stories interlinked with the September 11 , 2001 attacks. Allegedly he had creative difference with the Producers and hence is wary about taking up direction again.
Let us hope he does. Maybe we could then see some masterpieces from the master actor, this time as a Director.