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Birthday love: Naseeruddin Shah’s top five on-screen personas

One of the greatest talents to come out of Bollywood, Naseeruddin Shah, started his career in the film industry as a 25-year-old nobody in ‘Nishant’ (1975). However, over the years, Shah has proved his mettle against the top in the business and come to be known for his versatility and onscreen personas.

As a means of celebrating his 71st birthday, looks back five incredible roles portrayed by the veteran actor.

‘Sarfarosh’ (1999)
Shah seems to have a way with Urdu poetry. The way he recites it is music to ears. In ‘Sarfarosh’, Shah played a poet and a terrorist in hiding. He was eerily compelling in mixing charm and malice together. Aamir Khan might have been the lead in ‘Sarfarosh’, but it was Shah who actually stole the show.

‘Parzaania’ (2007)
This National Award winning film is an important film set in the backdrop of 2002 Gujarat riots, Shah played the head of a Parsi family who finds itself embroiled in the heinous communal violence. Shah did a stellar job in depicting the pain of a father looking for his missing son. It is an underrated performance of Shah and deserves to be seen by any fan.

‘Maqbool’ (2004)
In Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Maqbool’, based on Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, Shah played one of the corrupt cop duo along with his old friend Om Puri and absolutely nailed it. Shah is not known as a comedy actor, but like almost everything else, he does it pretty well too. Om Puri and Shah were the only comic relief in this very dark film.

‘Dedh Ishqiya’ (2014)
Shah reprised his ‘Ishqiya’ (2010) role in this film and delivered one of the best performances in recent times. It was a delight to hear the elegant, poetic couplets coming out of his paan stained mouth and his sardonic smile made the experience all the more pleasing. The film touched upon a variety of genres — action, comedy, romance, social critique — and Shah handled it all like the master of his craft that he is.

‘A Wednesday’ (2008)
Saving my personal favourite till last, ‘A Wednesday’ is a masterpiece by all accounts. In this film, Shah voiced the concern of common people, who were terrified of constant terrorist attacks in the country. Shah epitomised in this gritty performance what a common man can do if he loses his patience. It was Shah alone who carried this film on his shoulders and sent acclaimed artistes like Anupam Kher to the side-lines. wishes Naseeruddin Shah a very happy birthday.


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