'Masoom' cannot be improved: Naseeruddin Shah

Mumbai, Aug 10 (IANS) Veteran actor-director Naseeruddin Shah cringes at the very mention of the "remake trend". He says he neither understands the "business" of remakes, nor is he in favour of a new version of his 1983 critically acclaimed film "Masoom".

"I don't understand this remake business. Films that are being remade shouldn't be made in the first place. Bollywood is just betraying its complete mental lethargy by doing this! Earlier it was done differently, but unless you have some different angle to it, one should not do it," Naseeruddin told IANS in an interview.

"Masoom", directed by the maverick Shekhar Kapur, was about how the news of a man's love child creates havoc in the life of a happy family. Naseeruddin played the father, while Shabana Azmi essayed his wife.

It is one of Naseeruddin's favourite films from his career of over four decades.

The buzz is the actor-singer-producer Himesh Reshammiya has recently bought the remake rights of the movie. Naseeruddin says the film's story is not conducive to modern times.

" 'Masoom' cannot be made better. I don't think anybody should try remaking 'Masoom'. In this modern world of emails and mobile phones, how is it possible that a child grew up to the age of 10, and his father has no clue of his existence?" he asked.

In the recent past, Bollywood filmmakers have shown a fancy towards a string of old movies. "Agneepath", "Himmatwala", "Chashme Buddoor", "Don", "Umrao Jaan" and "Karzzzz" are some examples, while the remakes of "Hero", "Zanjeer" and "Baton Baton Mein" are in the works.

Meanwhile, even at 64, the actor is continuing a versatile filmography. "Peepli Live", "Ishqiya", "7 Khoon Maaf" and "The Dirty Picture" stand proof - and with "Dedh Ishqiya" and "Jackpot" he is proving himself further.

Till date, he admits, he does every film with equal enthusiasm and with a sense of commitment.

"I have never done any film which I didn't want to do ever in my life. Every project that I have got into is with the same enthusiasm and same hope. Some have worked out and some have not. It's unfair to say which ones are my favourites. People still talk about films like 'Masoom' and 'Monsoon Wedding' and I get best wishes from people.

"There are also times when you are shooting a film and you know that the film is not going to work, but you can't walk out of a project! Too many people end up losing a lot of money; besides, there is also a commitment issue," he said.

A multi-faceted personality, Naseeruddin turned director with "Yun Hota To Kya Hota" in 2006. And the industry is still waiting for his next project.

But, he says: "It's too difficult to direct films!"

"I don't have the visual sense and to take decisions - both qualities that you need to be a filmmaker. I guess I enjoy directing theatre, but not cinema because in cinema, if you make one thing, it's there forever and you will be judged as a filmmaker on that.

"That time (for 'Yun Hota...'), I felt like making a film, so I went ahead. Now I don't know...may be I will or won't," he added.

Nevertheless, he is appreciative of efforts by filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap and Tigmanshu Dhulia, who, in his opinion, are preparing the ground for future filmmakers.

"Anurag and Tigmanshu are preparing the ground for future filmmakers. We should celebrate, but not get carried away with this change," he said.

(Uma Ramasubramanian can be contacted at umasagit@gmail.com)

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