And Then One Day: A Memoir

Osama Siddiqui

I strongly believe that I have inherited loving many great actors from my grandfather who was a great fan of Dilip Kumar and in this context, I cannot minus my father as well from the list of admirers of great actors like Dilip Jee, however, Naseeruddin Shah is also such an amazing actor who attracted my attention when I was leaving my teenage behind and with every passing year I fell in love with his acting with more intensity, and even his films can make me talk about him all the day but here I have to throw light on his autobiography, published recently.

According to his book ‘And Then One Day: A Memoir’, he was born in a small town Barabanki which is near the historical city Lucknow in India. None of his elders knew exactly about his date of birth but his mother remembered that he was born in Ramadan in 1949 or 1950. His father was a civil servant and during partition, unlike many Muslims his parents decided to stay in India, however, some of the siblings of his father and mother left India and migrated to Pakistan.

Naseeruddin Shah got his early education from a missionary school run by Irish Brothers. He was not good in studies as he mentions, because, he was more interested in cricket later on; however, people told him that he was not fit for that particular game.

In his autobiography, he highly values the acting spirit and capability of Shammi Kapoor and Kishore Kumar; however, he states that his family had no such interest in films etc. and his father rarely had watched few movies in his whole life, while his mother started watching films only when he started acting.

The way he wrote the story of his struggle in Mumbai is very eye catching for the readers. When he shifted to Mumbai, he was taken home by Apa Sakina – sister of Dilip Jee, where he could take rest and eating meals, however, after disappointment in the beginning at Bollywood, he got admission in Aligarh Muslim University by taking English literature as major and history and political science as elective subjects.

Thereafter, he went to the National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi where he no longer had to depend on his father in financial terms as he started getting his monthly stipend from the NSD administration, while there he met another great actor Om Puri and his life turned to a new way.

The publication contains the details of a lot of ups and downs of his life, wherein he explains how he asked for the role of Mirza Ghalib in a TV serial and made relationship with Ratna Patak which later converted into marriage. Astonishingly, the age difference between them was 7 years and Ratna had to fight with her parents to keep the relation going on.

He also openly explains his troublesome relations with his father. Both of them were unable to understand each other completely. As a reader, I can easily tell what would be the reason for that situation. Actually, his father was a civil servant and would have been a disciplinarian; however, Naseeruddin Shah was an artistic and sensitive person having a different view about life and its realities.

The autobiography is a must-read for everyone who has interest in the artistic side of the Indian cinema as Naseeruddin Shah’s role in Bollywood has been very artistic, versatile and dynamic. The book consists of 26 chapters and 336 pages. Its language is English, while it is published by Penguin Books Limited and apart from India and other countries; it is also available in Pakistan.

The writer is a graduate of the Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences), Peshawar in business administration and has keen interest in modern South Asian history, cricket, films and history of the Subcontinent. He can be contacted at: osamasiddiqui21@yahoo.com.


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