Naseer Saa'b - The top 5 performances

They say him A Man of All Seasons. When he speaks, we all listen. He is a true master when it comes to acting. Naseeruddin Shah, unlike the rest of the Bolly Land, is honest, candid and qualified. Born in 1950, and educated in National School of Drama, Delhi, he has worked hard to cement his place as the iconic face of new Indian cinema (from 80s to till date). Indeed, he is arguably one of the finest actors of the world today.  Though his use of hesitant speech and casual gesture to signify psychological complexity sets him apart from the mainstream actors, he has gained fair amount of success in mainstream movies too. Tridev, Mohra and The Dirty Picture are to be named a few of the commercial successful movies of him. Naseer Saa’b was first noticed by Shyam Benegal and the rest is history now.

Today, Filmistani would like to list out 5 memorable performance of Nasser Shah, in no particular order. And yes we are not counting his iconic Mirza Ghalib series (as I think, that is something which can not be put in a list with any film ever)

1) Nishant: 'Poot ke paanv paalne me hi dikhayi de jate hain'. This could not have been truer in any sense of the world than Nasser Saa'b's debut movie Nishant. Directed by the pioneer of art-house and parallel cinema, Shyam Benegal and based on a story by legendary Vijay Tendulkar, Nishant is a deep and disturbing experience. Outlined by incredible performances by a stellar cast consisting of Girish Karnad, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Sadhu Meher, Amrish Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anant Nag, Mohan Agashe and Satyadev Dubey; Nishant went on to win National award that year. In a small yet powerful and challenging role, Nasser saa'b plays the character of Vishwam, youngest son of Amrish Puri and portrays the character of a shy, confused and submissive individual who is confronted by his own destitute for accepting his love. The movie will never be known as a Naseeruddin Shah movie because of the power driven by other actors in the film, but it nonetheless remains a classic

2) Masoom
Masoom can be quoted sometimes to be the movie that established Nasser saa'b at the forefront of Indian Cinema. Before this as well he was an academic artist being studied in the realms of alternate cinema but Masoom made him a household name by establishing him in mainstream with the contemporaries. Masoom touches a very sensitive topic of extra-marital affair and lovechild (It is a retelling of Eric Segal's Man, Woman And Child though). Playing the central character of DK, Nasser Saa'b churned out a masterful performance. As a man driven by grief, regret as well as love for the child, he was at his best when he does the 'evocative proximus'. The movie caps an impeccable performance from Shabana ji as well and is tuned melodiously by RD Burman

3) Sparsh
Sparsh will always be the movie which I personally think, showcased the acumen of Naseeruddin Shah at its full potential. The kind of definitiveness and exactitude that he brought to the role is unbelievable. Playing the role of Anirudh, a blind man with an imperative amount of confidence and zeal which stopped him from getting pitied by the world but at the same time being hyper sensitive to the nuances of his condition and the world outside. He gives you the feeling of a sore loser as well as a man who should be considered an iron pillar at the same time. It is an absolute gem of a performance; powerful and emotive; and deservingly got him the National Award for the best actor in 1980. The movie again has amazing chemistry between him and his favorite co star Shabana Azmi.


1980 was indeed a remarkable and life changing year in terms of Naseeruddin Shah's career. Aakrosh featured him in a character poles apart from what he played in Sparsh, the same year, and also brought forward the versatility and power of Nasser saa'b. The movie was set in the backdrop of a world ruled by people in power with law and order at mercy of these powerful few. Sounds like a usual Bolly flick!! But what made this movies a monster film is the treatment by Govind Nihlani which converts it into a dark and depressing saga where every character is relatable, every story is believable and every scene is impeccable. It features Om Puri in a career defining role and one of his most acclaimed as well but the show stealer is indeed Naseer. Playing the character of Lawyer Bhaskar Kulkarni, Nasser Saa'b plays a low tuned and uncharacteristially restrained character. The movie also outlines a lot of socio economic undoings and the struggle of one man against a system which is beyond his control. It is also a must watch movie for another of Amrish Puri's limited but impactful character

5) Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho
Well its impossible to do a top 5 list for Nasser Saab but its even tougher to have written 4 and finalise the 5th one. Mohan Joshi Hazir ho completes the Saeed Akhtar Mirza trilogy for me with Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai and Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro, However it is the most underrated of all the three. It is one of the most subtly handled satires in Indian cinema. The movie again featured an ensembled cast of Naseeruddin Shah, Satish Shah, Dina Pathak, Amjad Khan, Bhisham Sahni and Rohini Hattangadi. Nasser effortlessly plays the character of a slimy lawyer who manipulates his clients for long periods, mocking the judicial system in India. Also the wig he is wearing is one for the collector's edition

A top 5 will never be sufficient to salute the genius of Naseeruddin Shah and some of his other monumental work includes Jane Bhi do Yaaron, Katha, Junoon, Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyun Aata hai, A Wednesday, Mirch Masala and Ishqiya


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