Mumbai: Naseeruddin Shah is in no mood to bow down or go back on his words!
At a packed masterclass organised by Neville Tuli of Osianama at Liberty cinema in Mumbai on Tuesday evening, his recent heavily sensationalised statement on Rajesh Khanna came up and Naseer did not hesitate to elaborate on the controversy.
The two hour long session started off with Naseer sharing tidbits from his personal and professional life, eventually getting swayed away to the palpable statement on Rajesh Khanna’s inadequacies as an actor, which had the industry collectively taking offence.
“The start of plagiarism in Hindi movies began in the early 70’s – the mediocrity in music, script writing, story telling, acting everything. Who were the popular stars of the 70’s apart from Mr. Khanna? Joy Mukherjee, Biswajeet Chatterjee. Does anybody remember these gentlemen? They were very big stars. There was also Jeetendra. The trinity of Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar was on the wane. The film industry needed a new icon and Rajesh Khanna filled that role. The fact is the industry created him, used him and cast him away when he was no longer a money-minting machine”, the ‘Waiting’ actor elaborated.
Upon being enquired by Tuli if ‘use and throw’ was the general nature of the industry, Shah responded, “Had Mr. Khanna been more on his guard, he could have prevented this from happening.”
Reacting to the widespread backlash he had been subjected to, Naseer said, “Everybody who has got upset with what I said, none of them has contradicted what I said. They all said, ‘How can you say a thing like this. Have some respect for the dead.’ What respect did the film industry have for Rajesh Khanna when he was alive is my question. He had thousands of people outside his bungalow. Does that make him a great actor? So anybody who has thousands of people outside his bungalow is a great actor is that what you are trying to say.”
Shah was then contradicted with the argument of performances of Khanna in films such as ‘Aradhana’ and ‘Anand’ being critically acclaimed, to which he retorted, “Certainly. I am not denying that. I am talking of his contribution by and large. I loved his performance in Anand and I loved his performance in Aradhana. These are the two films of his which I can certainly say I like without any reservations. I don’t think I liked any others.”
Naseer also justified his right to an opinion, in a subsequent media interaction. “If you speak your mind, there is nothing wrong with it. I suppose one should be at times a little diplomatic that is what I have been told. But I don’t see the merit in that. I think one should say what one feels and if you have ended up offending somebody then that is just too bad”, he asserted.
Also clarifying on his much publicised apology, he posited, “I apologised to his family because I can understand their feelings. I have not apologised to anybody else nor have I withdrawn that statement.”...