Major Mohommed Ali Shah is the jack of all trades. After serving in the Army for five years, Shah is now fulfilling his life-long dream of working in front of the camera. He has worked in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider. He was recently seen in the web series Avrodh: The Siege Within and Tigmanshu Dhulia’s film Yaara. Shah is the nephew of legendary actor Naseeruddin Shah but he says that he hasn’t taken any favours from his uncle other than acting tips.
In an interview with IndiaToday.in, Major Mohommed Ali Shah talks about nepotism, his choice of roles and more.
Army officer, motivational speaker and now an actor. Why acting?
I believe you should excel in whatever you do. I had done my first play when I was five and I enjoyed the feeling of being on the stage. But as I grew up, I realised that there is no living for a theatre actor, you need to have a job to earn your living simultaneously. I kept doing theatre and after graduation, I tried to get into the National School of Drama. I couldn’t get through. Pankaj Tripathi and I, both were trying to get into NSD. Pankaj got through. I then joined a call centre and again applied next year, but was unsuccessful again. I then went to the Army. I learnt a lot in the Army which ultimately made me a better person and also helped me in acting.
From Avrodh to Yaara, you have majorly played men in uniform. Is it a conscious decision?
It wasn’t a conscious decision but when I joined the Army, I knew that after five years, I have to come to Mumbai. That time, I saw a lot of benefits of being in the Army. I knew that uniform roles would be my USP. That’s how I got the cast in Haider. I have seen life at the grassroots level and from 30,000 feet above sea level. I believe in doing my research and in excelling at what I do. Yes, I have picked up roles of uniform personnel, but not every Army man or policeman is the same.
You said your role in Yaara is the best role you have played. Why is that?
I put a lot of hard work in that role. I spent over a month at the Golden Temple doing seva. I used to be a chain smoker, but I quit because Sikhs don’t smoke. I read Guru Granth Sahib. I grew my hair and beard. I worked a lot for that role.
Seeing the current atmosphere in Bollywood, what is your take on nepotism?
Pehchan se mila hua kaam zyada din nahi rehta hai, lekin apne kaam se mili pahchan umar bhar rehte hai. I strongly believe in this. If somebody recommends but still if I don’t have it in me, I won’t be successful. Also, it isn’t the industry that decides this, it is the audience that determines if they like our work or not.
You are Naseeruddin Shah’s nephew, has it helped you in anyway?
I had the chance to learn from such a great actor like him. He guided me and that is about it. I got my roles on my own. In the Army, we plan everything and now that has become a part of my life. Now, while working as an actor, I have a sense of security and that comes from working in the Army. Also, all these great actors, Dilip Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar they all are outsiders but they worked hard and achieved success. So I am responsible for my success and my failure.
What was your reaction when you heard about Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide?
I was shocked when I heard about Sushant’s death. We don’t know what was going through his mind. On the surface, his life seemed perfect but he was going through so much. I am not just talking about mental health but, if at all, he was under threat, it isn’t a good feeling to be in. My heart bleeds for him and I stand by him. I support his family. A CBI enquiry should put an end all the speculation.
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