The Nature of the Social: Dynamic Cultural Identities Depicted by Naseeruddin Shah in Indian Films

By:
Professor Jagdish J. Chavda
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The Nature of the Social: Dynamic cultural identities depicted by Naseeruddin Shah in Indian Films. His style, depiction of the character he plays for his role in a film; are all what Neeruddin Shah calls "attractiveness" "in the truth" he brings to his performances. Todate, in his entire career of some two hundred fifty plus films, the filmgoer notices an actor who gives his all. In his latest film, 'Asambhav,' he plays a "flamboyant, playboyish character". for director Rajiv Rai. The song and dance routines so common in Indian films are not a staple trademark for Neeruddin Shah, but he has performed them in many of Rajiv Rai's productions. In 'Mandi,' a Shyam Benegal film, he brings truth to his performance as a go-for humble servant to a madam who runs a brothel in a remote city in India. The house of ill-repute becomes the center of a strife between the political and business interests of the rich and famous of the city. The soliloquy of the lowly servant as he returns to the brothel after a heavy night of drinking, is in my opinion, Naseeruddin Shah's best example of the truth he portrays in his performance. His cultural identity is of a loner; a male who is not involved sexually with any of the women of the brothel where he works. His role depicts him as a character who has no other family, a wife, or children to go to. His sole enjoyment is to go out at the local bar and drink, sitting in a remote corner. Then to return to the brothel to sleep-out till the next day; and serve the owner -madam. "I have never selected roles simply because they are glamorous. I have realised one thing in my career and that is; I cannot survive on the basis of glamour or attractiveness. The attractiveness lies in the truth I can bring to my performance". The above was Naseeruddin Shah's answer to a question placed before him when he was interviewed by "Indo-Asian News Service' (July 2004) in Mumbai, India, in regards to his role in 'Asambhav.' In Mira Nair's 'Monsoon Wedding,' he plays a patriarch of a sprawling well-to-do extended family. He displays an honest account that leaves nothing out. The story of a hastily arranged marriage of his daughter to a youthful Houston raised Indian professional is delightfully chaotic. However, when he had to make tough decisions he does not hold back. He tells his best early life business supporter, a family confidant; to leave the wedding party when his niece accuses the family confidant of fondling her when she was young. In Naseeruddin Shah's depiction, one witnesses a flurry of preparations for the wedding. Even the messy affair of his daughter with her boss are easily perceived from some of his lines for the part. Thus, he brings an enormous energy, joy and sensual indulgence which is splendidly "infectious". He is quoted as saying, "how I have survived sometimes is a mystery to myself". To those of us who admire his talents, his performances are not a mystery. They depict the talents of a master-craftsman who exposes identity, bona-fide social concerns and conflicts, in a fluid manner.


Keywords: Dynamic cultural identities depicted, Naseeruddin Shah in Indian Films
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Professor Jagdish J. Chavda

Professor; Assistant Chair, Department of Art, University of Central Florida
USA


Ref: H05P0636