I’m hopeful, that’s why I’m here: Naseeruddin Shah

Published: April 3, 2012
Ace actor thinks the Pakistani film industry has a lot of untapped talent. PHOTO: FILE

Ace actor thinks the Pakistani film industry has a lot of untapped talent. PHOTO: FILE


At a time when almost every actor in Lollywood is trying to get work in Bollywood, an icon of Indian cinema says he couldn’t be happier that he has crossed borders to work in a Lollywood film.

One of the finest actors of Indian cinema Naseeruddin Shah is in the romantic city of Lahore these days to shoot for his Lollywood project Zinda Bhaag. “I came here a month ago for a week to practice my script and get familiar with the culture of Lahore. I came back to shoot for the film and my part wrapped up in five to six days,” Shah says.

Current venture

Shah, who was honoured with the Padma Bhushan award in 2003 for his acting prowess, says that his film’s script is very unique but relatable. “Zinda Bhaag is a film based on the subject of illegal immigration. This is a big problem in Pakistan and India because overpopulation and lack of opportunities makes people desperate to flee to supposedly greener pastures. There are people in this business who lure unemployed youth with false promises of money and luxury and send them abroad illegally. The subject of the film is very good and it deals with different issues that stem from the crime of illegal immigration,” the actor explains.

Talking about his role in the film, Shah shares, “I’m portraying the role of an agent who is involved in this crime. He has different illegal businesses and one of them is to give hope of a ‘dream life’ to youth and coaxes youngsters into giving him all their money. This is a film which is tailor-made for the Pakistani audience. It deals with the problems present in their society.”

Though Shah has worked in super hit film Khuda Ke Liye by Shoaib Mansoor in 2007, Zinda Bhaag will be his Pakistani-Punjabi film debut. “The film is both in Urdu and Punjabi but my dialogues are mostly in Punjabi. I came to Pakistan a month ago because I wanted to get a feel of the language before I start speaking it,” he elucidates.

Apart from Shah, all the actors working in Zinda Bhaag are new and have come from different areas surrounding Lahore. However, the experienced Indian actor practiced with his cast and crew and tried his level best to develop a rapport with them. He also gave training sessions to budding Pakistani actors and gave them tips on how to improve their acting during his last visit to Lahore.

Unfair stereotypes

When asked whether the film would be a commercial masala flick or a serious art film, Shah replies, “I don’t think it’s wise to divide films into these two broad categories. Every film is a commercial film as money is invested in its making. I consider film to be a mass-medium and I think the only two categories films should be divided in are good and bad. There are a lot of commercial films with a lot of dances and songs but are still considered good films, but on the other hand a lot of serious films leave a bad taste in the mouth so one can’t generalise commercial and art like that.”

Keep on believing

The veteran actor says that Pakistani film-makers are on the road to progress and that he is extremely hopeful about the future of Lollywood. “I am hopeful that’s why I am here. In India, many film-makers make films to earn money but every once in a while when I get approached by young film-makers, who dream big, I help them in whatever way I can,” he adds.

The film is directed by Meenu and Farjad and produced by Mazhar Zaidi. The shooting is in its last phase and will be completed within two weeks. The film is expected to release in 2013.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (30)

  • aftab malik
    Apr 3, 2012 - 7:57PM

    Punjabis don’t speak their mother tongue any more,so why is he here making punjabi movies? he should be working in punjabi movies in indian punjab where punjabi is still proudly spoken.


  • Fawad
    Apr 3, 2012 - 8:20PM

    He is not a great actor as he is made out to be. He is a very highly over rated actor. We have better actors than him here. Why do we have to bring these when we have better talent?


  • khan
    Apr 3, 2012 - 8:53PM

    welcome sir


  • Zubair Balochess
    Apr 3, 2012 - 9:40PM

    Dear Fawad,
    Let me guess, in your world probably Shah Rukh Khan is a bigger actor than Naseer. LOL!


  • unbeliever
    Apr 3, 2012 - 9:51PM

    well, he is. and to suggest you how good he is just watch jaane bhi do yaaron, iqbal, a wednesday. there are various other movies in art cinema which are far far good if you are interested in them.

    and he being good never means that pakistani actors are bad. grow up brother.


  • Raj
    Apr 3, 2012 - 11:05PM

    @aftab malik:
    Even in India Punjabis who are staying out of Punjab and Haryana ,mostly speak in Hindi and not in Punjabi. I myself is a Bengali, but have Punjabi friends whom I rarely see speaking Punjabi. It’s a funny thing that Indian Punjabis speak Hindi more and Pakistani Punjabis speak Urdu more compared to Punjabi . I have nothing against Hindi or Urdu but believe they should converse in Punjabi more, which is a wonderful and rich language and my second favourite after my mother tongue.


  • Apr 3, 2012 - 11:09PM

    he is my favorite actor in the bollywood, Welcome shah sb


  • nako murad baloch
    Apr 3, 2012 - 11:17PM

    i think in art movies pakistani actors r/better than indian.indian actors r/good in massla movies.but in art movies i do not think so.


  • Apr 3, 2012 - 11:32PM


  • Apr 3, 2012 - 11:44PM

    Stop calling it “Lollywood”. It’s Pakistani Film Industry.


  • Rise n Shine
    Apr 3, 2012 - 11:51PM

    If anyone across the border really wants to see how talented an actor Naseeruddin Shah is then they should watch films like Sparsh, Masoom, Paar, Junoon, Katha and Jaane bhi do Yaaron. These films represent some of the best hindi cinema of the late 70’s to the mid 80’s and was the period when Naseeruddin Shah was at the top of his game.


  • Optimist
    Apr 4, 2012 - 12:18AM

    A great actor! He is most welcome!
    I read somewhere that Dilip Kumar tried to avoid a scene with him and Naseer ud Din had to say his dialogues in front of a candle as Dilip never had the courage to act against such a great actor.
    Dilip Kumar might be over-rated, not Naseer ud Din who has proved his worth in many art movies.
    I guess some people are either jealous Or have some agenda!


  • Hero
    Apr 4, 2012 - 12:32AM

    Indeed he is the finest actor but he shouldn’t work in the films which portraying the defame of muslims.


  • Parvez
    Apr 4, 2012 - 12:45AM

    Big fan of Naseerudin Shah the quality he brings to the screen is hard for others to match.


  • Bombay Dude
    Apr 4, 2012 - 2:03AM

    Naseeruddin is a great actor, always loved his movie. Also like that fact that besides masala films ( which is usually flop by bad direction and no intelligent script) he chooses to do movies which are more relevant to current real life subject and people. If I had to choose someone other than Naseeruddin for such a role I would choose Salman Shahid, he was excellent in Kabul Express.


  • Kar2Khy
    Apr 4, 2012 - 5:04AM

    @aftab malik:
    Dear Punjabi friends! Punjabi language is not going to disappear tomorrow. It’s spoken in every corner of Pakistan and In Indian Punjab plus in London, Paris, Newyork, L.A., Canada, Australia, Middle East, many European countries. These places I have seen people only speak Punjabi & a local business language & no other. Also don’t worry about a limited population in few cities of Punjab where English or Urdu is spoken by College students, Government employees and businesses for national dealing. Don’t forget the 90% of the population who lives outside these city still speak Punjabi.


  • bade mian
    Apr 4, 2012 - 6:21AM

    Those who don’t recognize naseer-udin’s talent must be too young or follows tushar kapoor acting.
    he is an actor who even inspires the great Amitabh .

    Naseer Sahib aap ka ehsan hai aap humare yahaan aye.


  • Wise guy
    Apr 4, 2012 - 6:32AM

    Because your industry is pretty much dead


  • Shahzaib
    Apr 4, 2012 - 11:59AM

    @aftab malik:
    I completely disagree with you. I am a young student here at Lahore and I love Punjabi.


  • Kashmirian
    Apr 4, 2012 - 2:39PM

    @aftab malik:

    Pakistani punjabi dialects are entirely different than indian punjabi dialects. There is no standard punjabi language, it is just closely related continuum of dialects.


  • Singh
    Apr 4, 2012 - 3:27PM

    Can you name one who repeatedly work in Hollywood too.


  • Fawad
    Apr 4, 2012 - 5:01PM

    @Zubair Balochess:

    All I said is that he is a much over rated actor than what is made out to be. Not really sure if we need him here where we have better actors than him


  • Optimist
    Apr 4, 2012 - 5:50PM

    @ Kashmirian

    Punjabi spoken by Sikhs is almost the same accent as by people of Faisal Abad (formerly Lyallpur)


  • Haris
    Apr 4, 2012 - 9:41PM

    Also in Germany and Spain, especially Barcelona :-)


  • gujranwala789
    Apr 5, 2012 - 12:48AM


    No surprises for me, people of faisalabad are predominantly migrants from indian punjab, so off course their dialect will sound the same as that of sikhs because of shared history and geography in the past, this is well known fact all over pakistani punjab .


    Apr 5, 2012 - 3:40PM

    I think the news is of Mr. Naseeruddin Shah acting in a Pakistani movie that is being produced in Punjabi and Urdu. The fanatics have started to talk about Punjabi language. Kahan se shuru kahan pe khatam…… GROW UP PEOPLE


  • Dani
    Apr 7, 2012 - 12:44AM

    you really need to educate yourself. yes, a continuum of dialects exists, as it does with ANY living language. however, there is INDEED a standardized dialect of Punjabi (India)–Majhi. the alternative dialect is Doabi. BOTH of these dialects are spoken, with obvious paki variation, in pakistan. The Punjabi language is entirely standardized in India, and co-exists with numerous local dialects. Pakistan is just a mess.


  • Rameez
    Apr 9, 2012 - 4:19PM

    @ Optimist
    are you really out of your mind ,
    I mean yes Naseeruddin Shah is a great actor (no doubt/all respect), but Dilip Kumar is the greatest actor ever born in India.
    Dude stop reading fake masala articles.
    and it’s not on the basis of personal like or dislike .It’s a fact


  • Svs
    Apr 12, 2012 - 4:04PM

    Naseerudiin Shah is a great actor no doubt. Probably the best actor of all time in India. But at the same time I don’t believe Dilip Kumar is an overrated actor. This is laughable. No offence, but those who call Dilip Kumar an overrated actor should rethink about their knowledge regarding movies, acting and film making.


  • Deb
    Apr 22, 2012 - 11:11PM


    Exactly my sentiment.I am a bengali too and just love punjabi language (just the sound of it) though I can’t read/write or speak.
    I listen to punjabi songs without realising a word of it just for the way they sounds.
    Would love to learn it.


More in Film