Was offered my debut film because I was bad looking: Naseeruddin Shah

After falling short of work, Shah clicked with the blockbuster 'Junoon' in 1978
Jaipur: Actor Naseeruddin Shah credits his 'bad looks' behind a Bollywood debut in director Shyam Benegal's 1975 Hindi flick 'Nishant' . "My girlfriend had left me saying I wasn't as good looking as needed for Bollywood films. Infact I was bad looking. But Shyam Benegal offered me my debut because of the same reason. It suited his hero's character," Shah said at the Jaipur Literature Festival here today.
Shah had starred in the National Award winning film whose storyline is based on a schoolteacher who is powerless to prevent his wife's abduction at the hands of tyrannical landowners. "The movie which starred Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil didn't need much dramatic efforts from me and I thought that was the reason why I was casted in the movie in the first place," he said.
The actor said despite the success of the film, it failed to generate "further work for me in the industry."
The 66-year old actor admitted that he had fallen short of work during his phase between "Nishant" and "Manthan", also a Hindi film directed by Benegal in 1976. It was only later in 1978 that he "clicked" with the blockbuster "Junoon".
"I simply fell short of work. Even if I was being offered some roles, they were those of either a union leader, a police man who says 'tumhe charon taraf se gher liya hai' or a doctor whose expertise was in saying 'maine injection de diya hai'," Shah said.
The actor was in conversation with playright and author Girish Karnad in a session titled "And Then One day", which is also the title of his autobiography. An alumnus of National School of Drama who later studied acting at the Film and Television institute in Pune, said he went to film school only to obtain "a passport into the movie industry."
"I don't think I learnt anything there. I still think acting is not taught at film schools the way it should be," Shah said.
"I strongly believe that actors and directors should be trained together. Film institutes have always had a tendency of admitting people who are good looking and later working on their skills. Acting is not something which can be taught. It has to be learnt. It is a very lonely journey but one has to travel this way to get into the business of acting," he added.
Noted as a prominent figure in the Indian parallel cinema, Shah expressed disappointment at not "succeeding well in commercial cinema."
"I feel disappointed at times that I could not succeed well in commercial cinema but then I have swallowed that like a pinch of salt now. I would have anyway not enjoyed being a chocalte boy who is mobbed by fans for pictures and autographs," he said.
( Source : PTI )
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