One of the many pleasures of watching Seema Pahwa’s directorial debut Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi is to see the great Naseeruddin Shah, as the dead patriarch of the family.
What is it like to be part of a film about a death in the family? Isn’t death a tragedy for the one who’s dead?
“Death is not a tragedy for the one who is dead,” Naseer tells Subhash K Jha.
“He’s oblivious forever. It’s a tragedy for those left behind, if they let it become one. There are also people, who find lessons in death. I feel it’s the most unimportant part of life and ironically, the only inevitable part.”
“Playing dead is easy,” he adds. “You only have to lie still and hold your breath during the shot. Luckily, I didn’t have to do that. My director Seema Pahwa said she would not bear to see me with cotton in my nose, lying on a pyre.”
He reveals that Seema used a body double for the pyre.
“It’s not me in the shots of the body, whose face you never see. I was very moved by this affectionate gesture. It reminded me of Gulzarbhai saying he couldn’t bear to see Ghalib dead (Naseer played Mirza Ghalib in Gulzar’s television series).”
Naseer is all praise for Seema as a director.
“Working with a trusting director like Seema was a treat,” he says. “She was totally on the ball, certain of what she wanted. She won the trust of everyone in the unit. She had no pretensions of making a great film, like many of our dilettantes do.”
What does Naseer have to look forward to this year?
He replies with mock-solemnity: “There doesn’t seem to be much to look forward to in the new year. But I have plans for a couple of things on stage, like Ismat Apa Ke Naam part four. After the lockdown eased, I acted in a Web series called Kaun Banega Shekhavati? I did tiny parts in films by Dibakar Banerjee and Shakun Batra.”
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