THE PRINCE OF PARALLEL CINEMA-NASEERUDDIN SHAH
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”- Thomas Merton
He found himself as a blind man struggling for his identity ,a father ailing for his estranged son, a Ghazal singer cum terrorist mastermind ,a common man ,an old and lusty lover and in various other shades of human nature and character while losing himself to each of them and we watched him with clasped hands and chocked throats crying and laughing at his portrayal of fiction which seemed so real.
Life wasn’t so easy at home. Born in a family of academics ,where there was a constant pressure to shine at studies ,he couldn’t relate to the subjects being taught at school ,except for arts. He had the audacity of writing in one of his exam papers that if his respective teacher knows the answers to the given questions then why is he/she asking them and if not how could he/she possibly expect them to answer the questions. It was conspicuous that he didn’t have flair for academics .He was headed in some other direction which had humongous obstruction in form of his own father. While he wanted to make his passion his profession ,his father himself being a government servant was not ready to let him go that way. Also as he has stated in several interviews and in his own autobiography, “And then one day” which has been recently released ,he didn’t have a very amicable relationship with his father. This relationship he felt, brought a kind of unfulfillment in his life,a void which he yearned to fill by mending what was broken but was supposedly unsuccessful in his attempts .Also ,his marriage to a doctor who was 11 years older to him was unsuccessful. Neither did she agree to a divorce, bargaining very hard for a phenomenal alimony, which Naseeruddin could not afford as he was at that time a “struggler,” an aspiring young actor with no regular income. Parveen’s idea was that Naseeruddin’s family should cough up the vast amount she demanded, but since they had been opposed to this marriage in the first place, they refused to enrich her. She then took Heeba with her and relocated to Iran.
Only in 1975, he met the love of his life ,Ratna Pathak Shah while acting in a play together. She co-starred with him in several films like Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na, Mirch Masala and The Perfect Murder .Since his marriage contract stipulated that he would not marry again while he was married to Parveen (although Muslim law permits bigamy for men), Naseeruddin could not marry Ratna until he had paid the enormous alimony and secured a divorce from Parveen. This took many years, and meanwhile, Naseeruddin and Ratna began living together without marriage. In 1981,Parveen agreed to reduce the amount for the alimony only on the condition that he wouldn’t demand any claims on the 12-year old Heeba .Nasseruddin could hardly recognize his daughter by then and thought that she would be an adult anyway ,in a few years.It was later revealed that she was suffering from cancer and that’s why all these arrangements were being made .Heeba was left in the custody of Parveen’s brother in Iran.Later on when Heeba came to India for higher education ,she began visiting her father and eventually the relationship was re-established, though cordial. Naseeruddin has promoted Heeba’s career as a stage actress and Ratna too enjoys a cordial relationship with her.
Shortly after Parveen’s death, Naseeruddin married Ratna. They became the parents of two boys, Imaad Shah and Vivaan Shah, both of whom are aspiring stage actors. Ratna Pathak Shah is the daughter of Dina Pathak, a veteran character actress, and the sister of the actress Supriya Kapoor, who is the wife of the actor Pankaj Kapoor and step-mother to the film star Shahid Kapoor.
What seems to be a world replete with happiness ,peace and satisfaction may not always be real and what is real is mostly the opposite of what is shown or seems. The world of cinema which on screens have people getting everything so easily ,most of them suffer mild inconvenience and then everything is hunky-dory. Far from the cruel and unforgiving world which has made the greatest stars sleep on the railway platforms and footpath for months and many of the struggling actors still living that life ,the reel life is dichotomous to the real one .What were the sacrifices made ,demands fulfilled ,nobody knows or even reveals the dark and dirty secrets of what they have been through to stand where they are and parallel to this runs their own personal life which is mostly in constant strife and disagreement with the society ,relatives ,friends and family .Lucky are those who were born with a movie camera in their hand and not a spoon of steel.