“Learn your lines and don’t bump into the furniture”, said Naseeruddin Shah when someone asked him a question about acting on stage and the entire auditorium roared with claps and laughter. I quickly noted this line down on my copy of And Then One Day and thought I would use it in my review of the book. All this and a lot more happened at the recent launch of his memoir in Delhi. It was a memorable evening in many ways because I never expected to see Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Ratna Pathak Shah on one stage together.
Naseeruddin Shah needs no introduction. My first memory of him, as far as I can remember, is associated with this movie Chamatkar where he plays a ghost. I quite enjoyed that movie back then and I like it till date but I don’t know how he rates that performance of his. Let me tell you that he is quite critical of his own work and unabashedly unapologetic about his opinions and that’s what make And Then One Day what it is.
The book begins with him reminiscing about his childhood. Quite unsure about his year of birth, Naseer saab, as people fondly call him was born in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. Youngest of the three, who was never good in studies apart from literature, poetry and drama, which he loved and excelled at. He was packed off to boarding school in Nainital by his parents. His father, with whom he’d hared a turbulent relationship throughout his life, had huge expectations from his youngest son but much to his displeasure, Naseeruddin Shah chose to do what he wanted at various junctures of his life. He ran away to Mumbai to try his hands at movies, he married Purveen at his own will when he was 20, he ventured into acting, something that irked his father the most because he thought acting doesn’t pay good money and a lot of other things.
This memoir sums up his life beautifully in about 318 pages till he married Ratna Pathak Shah when Naseer Saab was 32 years of age. When asked if he is planning to write a sequel to it, he said he has no plans (But I seriously hope, he writes a sequel), as the time he has written about were the most challenging years of his life. What stands out about this book is that it is brutally honest and has a powerful narrative. His love and passion for theatre and acting forms the undercurrent of the book and he does not believe in sugar-coating things. Definitely one of my best memoirs I have read because I never felt that Naseer saab was trying to hide or dodge anything while he was typing it (Yes, he typed this book when he bought his first laptop when he was bored to death in Prague while shooting for a film there. God bless the soul who taught his how to type on a laptop). It took him 12 years to finish this book and you would know why after reading it.
To sum up the review, all I can say is, do not miss out on And Then One Day. I am still reeling under its effect, so much so that last night, I ended up watching two Naseeruddin Shah movies back to back on YouTube, Nishant (His debut film as an actor) and Masoom (Shekhar Kapoor’s directorial debut) and I am definitely watching some more.
Book Source : Publisher
Publisher : Hamish Hamilton
Genre : Memoir
Price : Rs. 699/-