[Psychologies] ‘Indie cinema will never make large profits’

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Naseeruddin Shah
Naseeruddin Shah, 62, Actor

Do you agree with labels of the mainstream, parallel and new wave cinema?
These are terms coined by the press and I don’t subscribe to them. I don’t understand the fads, these trends and segregation. When the public goes to watch movies it does not presume a movie to be artistic or commercial. Good cinema is independent of such compartmentalisation and so terms like 100 crore-grosser or offbeat are not what define art.

How do you choose plays for Motley Productions?
I have been a voracious reader since school and am familiar with art and literature. I choose plays based partly on instinct and partly on my reading-list. We gravitate towards simplicity. The spoken word is the most important and the literary attributes of the text are to be retained on stage. We intend to maintain the discipline of the written work in theatre. The text is the most important asset and we configure our theatrical adaptations with respect to its authenticity.

What is the future of indie cinema?
As far as making large profits from indie cinema is concerned, it has never happened and never will. It belongs to a niche audience that is very competent and communicative. Nobody is too willing to invest in such movies. I believe that those who want to make a difference should make movies that cost less. Stars are not relevant, performers are. This is the same grudge I hold against the FTII people; make movies which connect without superficiality, don’t concentrate too much on creating the stars.

Which has been your toughest role till date?
That would be when I played Gandhi in the play Mahatma Vs Gandhi because we know how Gandhi looked like. I couldn’t extend my creativity there because it was an eponymous performance, unlike when I had played Ghalib in the TV series Mirza Ghalib because nobody today knows what he looked like. There is just one photograph of Ghalib so I had the freedom to use my own imagination and creative expertise while enacting that role.

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