Riots are not spontaneous, they're planned and motivated: Naseer

Feb 5, 2007 Subhash K. Jha


Mumbai, Feb 6 (IANS) Naseeruddin Shah has reached a stage in his career where he's just happy being part of projects that can make some difference to the quality of his life - and ours. That's why he's so happy with his latest "Parzania", a real life story of a family who lost their son in the 2002 Gujarat carnage.

After languishing in cans for months, the film was commercially screened on Jan 26. The only place where it is still to be released is Gujarat.

" 'Parzania' isn't raking up old wounds. It reminds people of how a crisis can occur to the most unsuspecting people. Apart from that, the film sticks rigorously to the facts. Both the sides are shown to be at fault. We haven't overstepped the mark. No one knows where the incident at Godhra began. It's all speculation," Naseer told IANS.

"I as an Indian Muslim - as you called me - have never felt short-changed or victimised. I don't think the majority of Muslims and Hindus feel any grudge against one another.

"By and large, these communal riots are not spontaneous eruptions of hatred. They're planned and motivated. In 'Parzania' all we're saying is the guilty should be brought to book and the innocent shouldn't suffer."

Rahul Dholakia, who began his career with a dismal fare, "Kehta Hai Dil Baar Baar", has directed the film.

Said Naseer: "At this juncture in my career I'm not looking to give great performances. I feel fatigued carrying a film on my shoulders. I've done enough of that. I now want to do projects that I'll enjoy, films that need to be made and which need my support.

"'Parzania' was one such project. My heart went out to the parents of the boy who got lost. I never doubted director Rahul Dholakia's sincerity, probably because I hadn't seen his first film.

"He kept that vital fact under close wraps. I happened to catch his first film 'Kehta Hai Dil Baar Baar' on TV one day recently. I got a bit worried."

Naseer says he finds it easier to work with struggling filmmakers.

"I've always found it easier and more rewarding to work with a director who has no proven record. Come to think of it, I've never regretted working with first-time directors. But I've had a bad time sometimes with tried-and-tested directors."

Naseer is sceptical of cinema being designated as art.

"At least in Hindi cinema I see no real artiste. 'Parzania' shouldn't be perceived as a work of art. Its flaws should be overlooked for its sincerity of purpose."

Naseer agrees the English language in a film about the Gujarat riots is a glaring flaw.

"I don't know why he did it. Rahul aimed 'Parzania' at an international audience. I guess he didn't have much hope of getting it released in India. But, yes, I think the language in 'Parzania' is as much of a ghastly flaw as the rickshawala in 'The City Of Joy' who spoke in English. Characters, who would speak in Hindi, should have been speaking in Hindi in 'Parzania'."

Naseer is all praise for his co-star Sarika.

"We've earlier done two films together, which hardly anyone saw. One was Jalal Agha's 'Nirvan' and the other was Ketan Anand's 'Shart' in which I played a psychopathic killer. Sarika was one of the girls I killed. I always thought she was an under-rated actress. She elevates 'Parzania' with her performance. She's a revelation."

When the topic of his lately injured son Imaad comes up Naseer falls silent. He finally speaks up.

"Obviously it was a painful time. To give up my work until he begins to recover was an easy decision. There was no dilemma about it at all. I was looking forward to a television cricket quiz that was to be aired during the World Cup. And I had to leave Milan Luthria's film 'Hat Trick'. One has to have one's priority right...

"Thankfully, he's recovering. He moves around on a walker inside the house. When he wants to go out, he does so on a wheelchair. His left leg is still healing. He's healing well..."

Remind Naseer that it was a tough time for him, and he says: "It was tougher on my son. He has gone through a lot."

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