Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Naseeruddin Shah: ‘My ‘Screen Test’ Was Eyewash To Deceive The Indian Press That An Indian Was Being Cast As GANDHI.”

Naseeruddin Shah after a long an arduous journey of over one decade has finally came out with his autobiography 'And Then One Day'. The autobiography besides coving the four decades of his illustrious career Naseer’s life from his childhood to his early film career concludes with his marriage to actress Ratna Pathak and the return of his daughter from his first marriage to India. 

On being quizzed about the rather abrupt end, Nasser in a lighter mood, in an interview said, “This is the first part of journey. The Secord part is yet to be written.” However on a serious note he added, “I think the part after my marriage to Ratna and meeting with my daughter, there is not much drama in my life hence I decided to end on a pleasant note.” 


Though the autobiography has many anecdotes that may enlighten readers about the untold facts of Naseer but the most surprising part is how Hollywood film maker Richard Attenborough played with the emotions of Naseer and the Indian at large. 

After showing dreams of casting him in the lead role as GANDHI, Richard Attenborough declined the role at the last movement as he had already cast Ben Kinsley, an English actor in the role as Gandhi and Naseeruddin Shah’s screen test in London was just eyewash to deceive the Indian press into thinking that an Indian was being cast as Gandhi.

Naseer recalling the incident laments, “I got an appointment to meet Sir Richard, who was impressed by performance in AAKROSH and termed me ‘maestro’. Hence my confidence was on sky nine. Also I was too confident that there couldn’t be an English actor who could manage the resemblance of Mahatma Gandhi. Thus I cancelled many of Bollywood movies and rushed to London with utter buoyancy.”

“However the movement I entered Shepperton Studios in London, I was aghast to see the back of Ben Kingsley and his shaved head. My heart sank. He turned around as we were introduced. All my enthusiasm fizzed out as the actor looked more like Gandhi than I ever could. I was heartbroken and felt my screen test was eyewash to deceive the Indian press into thinking that an Indian was being cast as Gandhi.”

Dreams rarely come true twice over. But it happened for Naseeruddin Shah, who got the opportunity to portray Mahatma Gandhi on screen in in Kamal Haasan's HEY RAM and Feroze Khan's play MAHATMA VS GANDHI. Naseer had termed these roles as prized roles as he says, "The part of Gandhi has fascinated me and eluded me for years. Now, of course, he's twice blessed.”