La Familia: Naseeruddin Shah’s nephew Mohommed says, ‘Don’t go by his grey hair, he is very young at heart’
Naseeruddin Shah is one of the most respected actors of Indian cinema. We have all loved him in films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Masoom, Mirch Masala, A Wednesday, Iqbaal and Ishqiya among many others. However, not many know about Naseer Saab – the person. Which is why we reached out to his actor-nephew Mohommed Ali Shah to know more about his superstar uncle. Mohommed recalls his first ever flight experience when he was just 3. He along with his family were coming to Mumbai to attend Naseer Saab and Ratna Pathak Shah’s wedding.
“That day is still very clear to me. We were in Madh Island, and I remember playing at the beach, and this one instance when at the nuptials I was sitting on Naseer Chacha’s back. He passed me a Coca Cola and I still have those black and white pictures in my album. I had a great time at their wedding,” recalls Mohommed. In fact, as a child he was a big fan of the cartoon character He-Man, which is why his aunt Ratna had gifted him He-Man’s sword and a Superman costume as a gift. Mohommed has still kept them dearly.
Mohommed has worked in films like Agent Vinod, Haider and more recently in Yaara. He says that his uncle was the reason that he became an actor. “We were at our ancestral home in Mussoorie, when I saw him working out for Jalwa (1987). I must be 7 or 8 then, and before that I didn’t know that he was a big actor – I always saw him as my Naseer Chacha. But just by watching him build muscles, I too was inspired to work out. That was the first time when we actually bonded and I remember him telling me, ‘Beta I am pumping up because I am an actor and I believe an actor should have a flexible physique. Not just in terms of movement, but also in terms of appearance’. This always stayed with me, and gave birth to my secret desire of becoming an actor,” says Mohommed.
He further adds, “Even today if I have to work out, I will not think of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, I will only think of Naseer uncle because he was the one who first inspired me to hit the gym.” Interestingly, Naseer Saab and Mohommed have another thing in common – they both had failed in Class 9. “It was around the same time when I expressed my desire to become an actor to my parents. They said if I think that I can become an actor, just because I am not good at studies, then I am highly mistaken. To be an artist one has to be well read and should have all kinds of experiences. That changed my perspective completely” informs Mohommed.
He also shares that Naseer Saab had run away from his house when he was 16 to become an actor. “Dilip Kumar Saab’s sisters knew my grandfather very well. So they caught hold of him and sent him back home. Which is when my Dada agreed to let him become an actor, but on one condition that he finishes his studies. So Chacha went to Aligarh Muslim University, which is where his Urdu became so powerful,” Mohommed recollects.
In 2001, he was also a part of Naseer Saab’s workshop in National School of Drama, Delhi which was attended by and Randeep Hooda too. “We all learnt from Naseer uncle, after which Shahid and Randeep came to Mumbai to become stars, while I earned some stars on my uniform as I went ahead and joined the army.”
Mohommed informs that Naseer Saab is a very chilled out and cool person. “Don’t go by his grey hair, he is very young at heart and gets along better with younger people. Randeep Hooda is a dear friend of his, and the first time I heard Randeep call my uncle by his first name without any ‘Sir’ or a ‘ji’, I was quite surprised. But I later realised that Naseer Chacha has a lot of young friends, and he likes to be in their company,” he says.
Mohommed also shares that besides acting, Naseer Saab loves horse riding, swimming and tennis. “He also loves to read, watch Hollywood films or cricket, tennis or any other sport on the TV. There is truly so much that I have learnt from him over the years. He is the best teacher and mentor that I could have ever asked for,” Mohommed signs off.