In an industry where star kids often hark back at their relationships with veterans to find an inroad into Bollywood, Major Mohommed Ali Shah has been slowly and quietly climbing the ranks. Naseeruddin Shah’s nephew has been part of films like Agent Vinod (2012), Haider (2014), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), Vodka Diaries (2017) and Raagdesh (2017), and features in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Yaara, which dropped digitally on Thursday.
Vidyut Jammwal and Shruti Haasan’s offering sees him as a Sikh police officer, a role that he earned after the director saw his Army major act in Haider. “My character of Jasjit Singh ages over two decades. The film sees me play a young IPS officer, and then as the joint director of CBI who is on the verge of retirement,” says Shah.
While actors who frontline films go to great lengths to do justice to their role, Shah, who plays a supporting role, also left no stone unturned to play this part. He grew his hair, learnt to tie a turban, stopped smoking, read the Guru Granth Sahib and spent time at the Golden Temple. “I come from a theatre background, and want to be a master craftsman of the trade,” says Shah, who shared screen space with his legendary uncle in Vivek Agnihotri’s The Tashkent Files (2019) in a role that was eventually edited.
Mohommed Ali plays a character that ages over two decades in Yaara
His training to be a commando during his stint at the Short Service Commission came to his aid. Apart from being posted at the Indo-Pak border for a while, the IIM Calcutta alumnus spent time at a corporate job before turning to acting.
Praising his acting chops, Naseeruddin once told Mohommed’s father: “he is good”. But the young actor never dropped his uncle’s name during auditions or while meeting filmmakers. “My uncle will give me a kick and tell me make it on my own. One film has led to another and now, I hope, Yaara does the same.”