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Mainstream Cinema Has Ruined Taste Of Audience, Says Naseeruddin Shah

Mainstream Cinema Has Ruined Taste Of Audience, Says Naseeruddin Shah

MUMBAI, (IANS) – Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah is one of the most forward-thinking artists of Indian cinema. So, when he talks about something, the world sits down to take notice.

The senior actor, who has donned the hat of a director for the second time with his recently released short film ‘Man Woman, Man Woman’, feels that the mainstream cinema of India hasn’t fully stuck to its responsibilities as a medium of art.

Talking to IANS, he said, “Our mainstream cinema has ruined the taste of the audience forever. Filmmaker Satyajit Ray mentioned this thing in his book titled ‘Our films, their films’ which he wrote 50 years ago. He wasn’t running down Indian films, but he was merely comparing the Indian filmmakers with international filmmakers.”

The actor shared that Ray wished for our audience to be more “discerning”, and stressed the importance of the audience that questions a filmmaker.

“Satyajit Ray said that we need audiences who get angry, we need audiences which are curious. It’s not correct to always pander to the softest sensibilities of the audience,” he added.

The actor is awaiting a positive change in the mainstream cinema as he further mentioned, “It’s been over 100 years for our cinema, and our mainstream cinema keeps making the same kind of films, many stories that you find in the mainstream films can be found in the Indian epics like ‘Mahabharata’ which is one of the greatest epics written. Every mainstream film that you see in India has some or other references from the; Mahabharata’. Either that or Shakespeare. Every cliche in Hindi mainstream cinemas has been heavily borrowed from Shakespeare.”

The actor-director then steered the conversation to artificial intelligence which has swept the world off its feet. Amid the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), several questions have intrigued people about the future of art and the artists and how things will progress going forward given that AI takes just a few minutes to do tasks that humans spend days working at.

People are uncertain about how things will turn out in the long run.

But, Naseeruddin has the answer. He prophesied that going forward art and literature will witness a certain political awakening. He said, “Art and literature, I feel, will become more politically conscious as time progresses and given the rise of generative artificial intelligence. It certainly won’t be enough to paint just a beautiful sunset.”

However, he feels that music won’t be much impacted by AI in the larger picture, “The music has been changing since the 1960s and the 1970s, the metallic sound, the rock music and then rock music evolved into industrial rock, alternative rock, and other forms. It’s not that music needs artificial intelligence to undergo a change, the music is one of the fastest self-evolving art forms.”

Talking about ‘Man Woman, Man Woman’, produced by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films, the senior actor shared that after making his first film ‘Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota’, he had decided that he won’t direct another film ever.

He shared, “I still think that I won’t make another feature film, but this was something else. It’s based on an incident from real life where a very dear friend of mine, who is 65 years of age, met a 70-year-old person, a widower on a dating site. They liked each other and after a while decided to get married, and I have never seen my friend so happy in life, this marriage brought happiness to her life.”

The ‘Sparsh’ actor wrote 10 drafts in a year and took inputs from his son Vivaan Shah and wife Ratna Pathak Shah both of whom star in the film as well.

“Old people have as much of a right to fall in love and be romantic,” he added.

As the world becomes more connected because of the Internet revolution, many things are constantly changing socially, economically, and politically. The actor, however, feels that despite access to knowledge now, the generational gap hasn’t diminished.

He said, “It’s still the same. However, the dynamics between the generations have changed. Fathers today are not averse to asking questions to their children. It’s no longer a thing that ‘I’m the father and I know everything’.”

He shared, “The world is changing rapidly so there’s nothing wrong in seeking information from your children, who have better access or perhaps better knowledge in a particular field or on a subject. It’s through learning that we all become better. My son Vivaan knows more about movies than I do, and I thought I knew a lot about movies. But because of the Internet revolution, the younger ones have better access to information.”

Finally, he spoke about his cult classic, ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ as he said, “It’s a film that I deeply love now but didn’t like while I was working on it because I was coming from a very purist point of view while working on it.”

He continued, “It’s not like that the process of working on the film was very harsh. I was used to working on films that demanded a lot from me, or which involved a very harsh working environment like ‘Paar’ and ‘Manthan’. It was mainly because I was into method acting and all that stuff back in those days because I was a fresh graduate from film school, it was merely 5-6 years that I graduated from film school.”

“I wanted logic, the real feeling, and everything that is required to become a character. But then I later realized that my director Kundan Shah was right about the film, he knew what he was making and exactly what he wanted from his actors,” he said.

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