The All is Well actor is back after Happy New Year to entertain us with All is Well. In an interview he opens up about his upcoming film, his equation with his colleagues, his relationship with his father and more...
Abhishek Bachchan looks like a neta (a spiffy one at that). He walks in wearing a white kurta pyjamas, khadi coat and reading quotes. Pleasantries exchanged, the first thing he tells me, “Make the questions interesting!” As I hand him my phone to record our chat, he asks mischievously, “Oh good! Can I keep it?” That’s AB for you. Always making situation light by cracking jokes. Here, he talks about his next release All Is Well, Aishwarya’s next release and of his on-screen (Rishi Kapoor) and off-screen Pa (Amitabh Bachchan). Read on...
Let’s talk about All Is Well.
All Is Well is the story between a father (Rishi Kapoor) and son (me) who don’t get along. My character fights with his father because he has certain aspirations for his son, who wants to do what he wants to and leaves home to try and make it on his own. In the film, I haven’t spoken to my father in 10 years, but circumstances are such I have to come back. He discovers his mother has Alzheimer’s and now the father and son have to try and get along when actually they don’t, because they have to pay off this loan and look after his mother. What’s nice is that the film is dealing with issues which are actually very important, the message is something which I believe in and the USP of the film is, Umesh’s style of narrative. If you see his last film, he says something very important but he dresses it in a garb of humour and I think that’s such a wonderful way to make a point.
It doesn’t feel preachy at all, but is entertaining and exciting to listen to. This is dealing with family dynamics. When I heard the film for the first time, I almost questioned myself — Am I a good son? I think I am. I do whatever I can for my family. But then the question was — can I be a better child?
In real life, has it ever happened that your father hasn’t approved of something that you did?
Nothing major. Petty discrepancies are always going to be there and that’s healthy for a relationship. My father has always encouraged my sister and me and everybody else in the family to discuss, air their views and opinions and make our own independent opinions. Both our parents brought me up to say that you must think for yourself, have your own opinion and always have the gumption to stand up for your own opinion. My father never interfered in my career choices in life. He’s always told me that it’s your life and career, you have to do what you want and you have to learn on your own.
Tell me about the time you told him you wanted to be an actor.
I always wanted to be an actor but the first time I officially told him was on the April 17 or 18 of April, 1994. It’s a big moment and that’s why I still remember it. I told my mom first. She gave me the strength to tell my dad. He was very happy. I was immensely nervous. When you are young, there is fear of approval and rejection, but he was very happy and supportive. In fact, both my parents have always been very supportive and never dictated what Shweta and I should do. They have always told us, do what your heart tells you. And if your heart isn’t in your job, there’s no point doing it. They never said go out and be an actor or take over the family business. My parents never put those pressures on my sister or me. They never told us that they wanted us to become a doctor, lawyer etc. If I had to answer that, I would say, if anything dad is happy that I am an actor.
Any dos and don’ts given by your dad when you entered the film industry?
No. Dad always had the faith in me that I would do the right thing because that’s how we were brought up. Mom brought us up with the emphasis on being a correct and good human being. So I think my parents had that faith in me that I would do the right thing. Their parenting value was to give us the independence to make our own decisions and to know what is right and what is wrong. They are always there to guide us.
In the film, whom are you close to?
In All Is Well, I am closer to my mother (Supriya Pathak).
And in real life?
It is not easy to describe. She is Maa... You know what I am saying. I am very different where relationships with my parents are concerned. My dad is more of a friend than a father, and my bond with my mother is that which a mother and son share.
AIW is about a dysfunctional family whereas yours is one the most, stable and loving families.
Can I be cocky? I’d like to believe that I am a good actor (laughs)! I’m kidding. You can’t bring your personal life and baggage onto a film set. Rather, you shouldn’t. Also part of the quest is to do things that you might not have done or had experienced before. Like Nandu in Happy New Year, or Bol Bachchan and Yuva. I like to do work which might not have any semblance to my personal life.
Tell us about your off screen relationship with Rishi Kapoor.
It’s the complete opposite of what we share in the film. That’s what makes it so much fun. Dad and Chintu uncle have worked together in films and so he’s like family. There’s always a discussion about a scene and every actor has his own approach to it. There’s always a give and take between co-stars and that’s Chintu uncle’s biggest ability — of being a co-star. He doesn’t play the role of ‘I am the senior’ on the sets. Chintu uncle allows you the freedom to behave as an equal with him and that’s wonderful. It’s very normal on sets to give suggestions and he’s very open to them as well. That’s very refreshing because regardless of what your personal relationship, he’s still Mr Rishi Kapoor, a living legend and then to go on set and discover that he treats his scenes as just another hungry actor is amazing!
So you are good friends?
My personal relationship with him is one of great camaraderie. It’s wonderful — at times even when we were not shooting he would call me over for dinner and I would go. He keeps sending me dirty jokes, so it’s great fun! He came for my first kabaddi match this year. Chintu uncle was very keen to come as he said he had last played kabaddi in the song Pakdo-Pakdo from Naseeb. I asked him if he was serious and he said yes. I said it would be an honour if he was there. He came and had a whale of a time. Chintu uncle is a source of huge entertainment in my life as he’s very funny. It’s so refreshing to be so honest also and have conviction in your views.
Ranbir is younger to me and more like a baby brother. We play football together and we meet every week. The cool part is that my equation with Ranbir is pretty much the same as it is with Chintu uncle. I always treat them equally — it’s never like ‘Oh, that’s Ranbir’s dad’. Chintu uncle too treats me like one of his friends. That’s fantastic!
So when the shoot ended, it must have been an emotional parting for you both?
No! Earlier, the last day of shoot would have been a highly emotional parting as we knew we wouldn’t bump into each other again. But in today’s day and age, the next day you are busy promoting the film, so actually you are spending more time with the person. Until the film is not released, that moment doesn’t happen anymore.
Recently Akshay Kumar said that he censors his wife Twinkle on her column. Do you do the same for your sister Shweta?
No. I do get to read it before it’s published, on a Saturday, though as I do know the author, you see (smiles). Whatever subject my sister has, like once she wrote on how emojis are taking over everybody’s life, so I respond to her in the subject of the column. When she wrote Emojinal, my response to the email was about 20 emojis! I think she’s very talented. Her English is so good as she’s also an English Literature student.
Your father wasn’t invited by Deepika Padukone for the Piku party. Did that upset you?
I have nothing to say on that. I am too busy doing my own work to bother about other people’s work.
Would you be awkward if you bumped into her at a party?
If I bump into her at an event, I would like to believe that I am a well-mannered and well-brought up person and I won’t snub her or behave coldly. What has that got to with anything?
Earlier you had a very intense image but now you are doing more and more comedy films like Hera Pheri 3 and House Full 3. Have you discovered a latent comic talent in you?
I think I just went through a phase where I went through a lot of serious work. I would like to believe that I have done some comedy throughout my career, some of them unintentionally (grins), but they turned out to be comic (roars with laughter)! I did Dostana, which was a romcom and after that I didn’t do anything in the comic zone. I came up with a spate of pretty intense films like Game, Dum Maro Dum, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, so when Bol Bachchan happened it was something completely different from what I had done before. I enjoy comedy and I want to do more of it. Maybe it’s just a state of mind, I don’t know... It’s very difficult to understand or explain at times, but I think actors choose films based on what frame of mind they are in. Now I am going through this happy, fun and frolic phase right now. After I complete these films I would have my fill of that and be done with comedy maybe. I will introspect and maybe do something which is a bit more intense and edgy. I am gearing towards that.
Ever thought of doing an intense love story?
Yes, I would love to do one! Doing an absolutely intense, tragic love story would be great fun. I do believe in eternal love, but who says just because your life ends, love has to end, too...? (smiles)
Are you acting in any AB Corp production after Paa?
No. Right now I am not producing anything that we are working on. I haven’t found a script that I would like to do. All the projects in the company right now is under the scripting stage, so I don’t think we will be producing something for some time.
Have you ever thought of directing a film?
No. I don’t know anything about direction. It’s a different craft altogether and something you will have to educate yourself in, before doing that. Maybe the performance part, I will get but the technical aspect of direction, I don’t know. Maybe down the line, there will be a day when I will say, hey I want to make a film, but then I must learn the art of direction.
Do you write?
I write down concepts but I have never written down entire stories. I am not a writer, but I do have ideas. Yes I do write them down somewhere — in a notebook for jotting down my thoughts, I just make notes. Every actor does that, make notes of the films or ideas they want to act in. It’s all part of the creation process. Maybe I should now get down to putting those ideas and do something.
Before Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor were asked to come on the AIB Roast, you had been approached and turned it down.
Yes. The AIB guys had approached me first. But I get roasted every Friday on the basis of my film’s release. Why do I need somebody else to do it for me? I think everybody has an opinion, it’s a democratic nation, and everybody has the right to express it. If you want to be a subject to that, power to you man, well done. If you don’t, then I think you should respect that. I work and live in a profession in which I am up for public speculation every second of the day, so I get my fair share of reality check.
You bonded with Shahid Kapoor last week on the sets of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.
I am very fond of Shahid. I met him last week on the sets of Jhalak Dikhhla for the first time after he got married. He was very sweet and had invited Aishwarya and me to his reception, but I was in Australia, so when I met him, I congratulated him. I wish him and his bride (Mira Rajput) all the best. God bless them.
You always have a warm relationship with fellow actors. No sense of competition and insecurity?
I have never felt insecure about anything. I understand why people would behave like that; I personally find it a bit shallow, but it’s not my place to comment on it. I am not like that. I enjoy bonding with other actors. This is my family, right? How terribly time-consuming would it be, if I had to continuously think who I want to talk to and who I don’t. Surely, it’s more beneficial to go out there, spread love and those energies in your work. Also, most of my colleagues today are people I have grown up with, so our relationships never depended on whether we were actors or not. Our relationships were forged much before, so it never comes in the way.
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