Neelima Azeem, mother of Shahid Kapoor tells Jyothi Venkatesh at the launch announcement of her directorial debut film ‘Nawab Nautanki’ that her film is a character driven film with which she is ready to go against the current
Neelima Azeem, actress and mother of Shahid Kapoor has now turned a director, with her film ‘Nawab Nautanki’ starring Chandan Roy Sanyal, Bhavna Pani and Neelima herself in the key roles. Neelima has written the film, which will have music composed by her husband Ustad Raza Ali Khan, the grandson of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb.
Besides doing the choreography for her film along with Pandit Birju Maharaj, Neelima will also write the lyrics along with Ajay Jhingran for the film, which will be produced by Lord Mukul Paul Taneja who is a Professor in Marketing from London. ‘Ek Cutting Chai’, an offbeat film produced by Taneja is now ready being readied for release.
‘Nawab Nautanki’, according to Neelima is a very crazy film. “I am all set to introduce an element of folk lore in my film which is a sweet satire. If you ask me what genre my film belongs to, all that I can say is that it is a well knitted jazzy film”.
Neelima is planning to launch the film sometime in January and complete it in a single non stop-shooting schedule of two months in and around Bhopal, which will form the majestic backdrop of the film.
Neelima admits that she decided to cast Chandan Sanyal in the lead in her film because he suits the character to a T. “I was very impressed when I saw Chandan in Kaminey in which my son Shahid has played the lead and immediately thought that he fitted the bill. As far as Bhavna Pani is concerned, besides the fact that she is a good actress and her plus point is that she is a good dancer. I cast Bhavna because I needed an actress with dusky looks. Bhavna plays the character of Katto Pataka, a street smart dancer in my film.”
Neelima is happy with the way her career has shaped till date, since the time she had made her debut in ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’ way back in 1992. Since then Neelima has acted in films like ‘Sadak’, ‘Itihaas’, ‘Zamana Deewana’, ‘Karam Yoddha’, ‘Ishq Vishk’ etc, besides quite a number of TV serials like ‘Phir Wohi Talassh’, ‘Tipu Sultan’, ‘Junoon’, ‘Saans’, ‘Talaash’, ‘Kashmir’, etc
Neelima, who is an expert Kathak exponent and a student of Pandit Birju Maharaj, has also earned a lot of accolades for her performance on the stage with stalwarts like Pankaj Kapoor, Raj Babbar and Naseeruddin Shah. She was pitted opposite Pankaj in the play ‘Salim Anarkali’, Raj Babbar in the play ‘Nadir Shah’ and Naseeruddin Shah in ‘Mati and Mataal’. In fact Neelima was awarded the Gyan Pith award for her performance in the play with Naseeruddin Shah.
Not many are aware of the fact that Neelima is the great grand daughter of the late Khwaja Ahmed Abbas and the daughter of Anwar Azeem, one of the greatest Urdu writers. No wonder writing runs in her blood. “I had been toying with the idea of taking up direction for quite a long time but could not take a break earlier because I was going through a lot of personal problems and hence was not in the proper frame of mind for creativity. In fact, I could not take time even for dancing. The time I think is ripe now for me to dabble in direction. ‘Nawab Nautanki’ is an original concept where I hope to merge my experience of dance, music, theatre, writing, television and cinema.”
Neelima is happy that in Lord Mukul Paul Taneja she has found the right producer who shares her vision. “If I took on newcomers instead of stars the reason is that I believe in my script. Besides, ‘Nawab Nautanki’ is a character driven film, which has as many as 36 well etched characters. The plus point of my film is its straight narrative. My producer said that he is ready to back me even if I cast newcomers because he is ready to go against the current to bring in renaissance. ‘Nawab Nautanki’ is not a period film. As a director, I do not believe in resorting to gimmicks. In any case, though the film is not abstract, the characters are abstract and hence I want to make the film aesthetically”, states Neelima as a matter of fact.
Neelima says that though as a filmmaker she does not believe in driving any message down the throats of the audiences, because she feels that she is making her film to entertain the audiences, she also adds that her film also has a subtle sugar coated message to the youth.
“I want the youth today to feel that somewhere in their journey of life, they have missed out something by forgetting their roots and culture by aping the West blindly.”