Naseer is quite happy with the way his role has shaped in producer-actor Sachiin Joshi’s JACKPOT directed by Kaizad Gustad. “The film is about a heist, directed by Kaizad Gustad with whom I had earlier acted in BOMBAY BOYS,” quips Naseeruddin Shah when I meet him in Goa for this interview on-location. Nasseruddin Shah, who will complete forty years as an actor next year, is wholly in his elements when I meet him after the pack-up for the day at the location shooting of the film …
“The reason I agreed to work in Gustad’s film is that I liked the script when Kaizad narrated it to me. I had earlier worked with him in his film BOMBAY BOYS and hence I knew that he is capable of making a good film, though I did turn down his offer to cast me in BOOM, because I did not like the role that he had offered me in that film,” continues Nasser when we ensconce ourselves in his vanity van.
The role that Naseer turned down in BOOM was eventually played by none other than Amitabh Bachchan. That film had also marked the debut of Katrina Kaif in Bollywood. “I go by my own gut-instinct when I read a script, try to visualize the role that I am offered, and then take a call whether to do the role or not, as an actor. When Kaizad came to me with the offer to cast me in JACKPOT, I read the script and decided to take up the role, because it was interesting. I enjoy playing the role of the conman, a twisted character. And I enjoy playing twisted characters, which offer me an immense scope to perform, because I feel that it is very boring to play the good guy in film after film, besides the fact that it is fun to play roles which are different …”
Naseer confesses that his performance in Kaizad’s BOMBAY BOYS remains one of his finest ones till date. “I like Kaizad’s idea of telling a script in reverse. I play the role of a character referred to as Boss in JACKPOT. It is like the combination of every Boss character that I have seen over the years in films. It is an over-the-top character, which I play in a broad and vulgar way.”
Naseer adds that he is happy to be a part of JACKPOT, which is his way of paying a big tribute to all the villains in Bollywood, right from Ajit to Madan Puri and Kader Khan to Pran and Jeevan Uncle. They weren’t just good actors but were committed to their work. Pransaab was thankful for the kind of work that he had got in films. I have never met in my life a person like him who is genuinely humble. They always reported on time on the sets, and used to make it a point to sit on the sets throughout the day when the shooting was on.”
Naseer reiterates that the roles being played by Sachiin Joshi and Sunny Leone in JACKPOT are tailor-made for them, written specifically keeping them in mind. “Though both Sachiin and Sunny are raw, they are trying hard to be sincerely professional to the core. And I am having a blast shooting for the film in which Sachiin, Bharat, Sunny and I con the people all the time in the picturesque locations of Goa in the film.”
Right now, besides being a part of the play A WALK IN THE WOODS being directed by his wife Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseer is also having films like DEDH ISHQIYA (the script of which he says is better and funnier than even ISHQIA), BLUE BERRY HUNT, THE COFFIN MAKER, Anjan Dutt’s MICHAEL for producer Anurag Kashyap, and Judhajit Sircar’s film about a female boxer, in which he is doing a two day role because he knows Judhajit from the time he was an assistant to Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
Naseer is also all set to act in Kundan Shah’s sequel to his own acclaimed hit JAANE BHI DO YAARO in which he will reprise his role in the original along with Rajesh Puri, Satish Shah and Pankaj Kapoor. “Rajesh Puri who played the role of a journalist in JAANE BHI DO YAARO will now play the role of the Prime Minister in the film in which Satish Shah, whose character dies in the original, will take on a different role. Kundan is also trying to rope in Irrfan Khan for the film,” shares Naseer.