'A Holy Conspiracy' presents true picture of our times, says Naseeruddin Shah

3 min read
Read later

Naseeruddin Shah| Photo: PTI|file

New Delhi: Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah on Saturday said his latest film "A Holy Conspiracy" depicts the true situation of the society plagued by toxicity.

Directed by Saibal Mitra, the courtroom drama explores the subject of constitutional right to differ in religious beliefs.

It is adapted from the American play "Inherit the Wind" that was inspired by the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial in Tennessee, USA, wherein a school teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution theory in a church-funded school.

Speaking at a session during 'MOSAIC: Judte-Judte (unite) JNU!' festival in Jawaharlal Nehru University here, the actor said he read the play in the 1970s and ever since wanted to be a part of its adaptation in any form.

"'Inherit the Wind' is a play that I read in the mid-70s and it was a great piece of writing and I wanted to do it on the stage but couldn't... It picturised the toxicity in which we are living today and the dependence on superstition where we are beginning to mistake mythology for history. I felt I certainly should be a part of this movie," Shah said.

In "A Holy Conspiracy", a science teacher is suspended from his Christian missionary school, and imprisoned on false charges, when he refuses to teach the Biblical story of creation before Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

The story then follows the courtroom battle between a reclusive lawyer Anton De Souza (Shah) and his old ally Reverend Basanta Kumar Chatterjee, played by late cinema legend Soumitra Chatterjee.

Shah said as an actor he aims to capture life as it is through his work and "A Holy Conspiracy" ticked all the boxes.

"I felt this is a significant film because it is trying to portray a true picture of the times and that's the kind of cinema I believe is significant. This is why I consider documentaries more significant than feature films. Documentaries can capture life as it is which no other form can do.

"Cinema is a combination of all the other art forms. It's a mix of theatre, photography, painting, architecture, sculpture, music and choreography. It has assimilated all these forms... So I said yes to this without any hesitation. This is a film that might be seen 50 or 100 years later and will give a true picture of what the situation of our country was like in our time," the 72-year-old actor said.

So keen was the actor to be a part of the project that he would have said yes to any role in the film.

"I felt a responsibility to definitely be a part of this film. I would have appeared in any capacity Saibal wanted me. I have played many great roles and I'm not hungry for them anymore. I'm not thirsty for roles. I want to be part of films that I will enjoy and which will be remembered," he added.

Shah said when he starts working on a film, he never thinks about how the final outcome.

"When I'm in the middle of a job I don't think about how this is going to turn out. I just try to concentrate on what I'm supposed to do," he added.

As an artiste, Shah said he doesn't believe that an actor should lose himself in a role.

"There are many senior actors who would say 'I was so lost in my performance that I didn't notice anything'. I think that kind of talk is nonsense. If you get lost, you should not be acting. You should be alert to everything.

"So I just concentrate on what I'm supposed to do. Whether a film turns out good is not in my hands. There is no way to predict how a film will turn out when you read a script. That is entirely up to the maker."

Another reason for saying yes to "A Holy Conspiracy" was the opportunity to collaborate with Chatterjee. The movie was shot before the legendary actor's demise in November 2020 at the age of 85.

"I was also looking forward to working with Soumitra Chatterjee. I have to admit I greatly envied him. He appeared in great movies like 'Apu Sansar' and many others with Satyajit Ray.

"When I did meet him, he was extremely nice and civil. He appreciated my work and everything but he wasn't in the best of health at that time," Shah said.

Director Mitra said though "A Holy Conspiracy" was released in India in July last year, the team could not publicise the movie much to bring the audience to the theatres.

"There are people who want it to come on OTT and everything but we don't have any place on OTT. Some executives told me that they liked the movie but they can't take the film on their platform. So I don't know, someday we will find this film on YouTube. It is for the people," Mitra said.


Add Comment
Related Topics

Get daily updates from Mathrubhumi.com

Disclaimer: Kindly avoid objectionable, derogatory, unlawful and lewd comments, while responding to reports. Such comments are punishable under cyber laws. Please keep away from personal attacks. The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of readers and not that of Mathrubhumi.