Amitabh Bachchan on his next release, his experience of working with youngsters and why he won’t attempt direction
On my way to meet Amitabh Bachchan at his swanky office in Juhu, I passed several billboards of the actor endorsing different products. It struck me how despite an avalanche of new and young faces, Big B is still one of the most sought-after names in the advertising and film industry. When I walk into his office I am told that he’s wrapping up the shoot of yet another product endorsement! Dressed in his favourite jacket that has the words ‘Russia’ written on it, we soon settle down to talk about his upcoming film, stuff he wants to learn and what he admires in the current lot of the young actors. Excerpts from our chat...
Most actors find film promotions tiring, Do you, too?
It is tiring, but it is now an accepted norm, so we just go along with it. It has become part of every film we do. Somewhere, they feel that promotions help the final outcome of the film. So here we are!
What’s different about working with Balki from Cheeni Kum to Paa to Shamitabh?
He has a different kind of mind and unique ideas. It is interesting for an actor to interact or work with someone who keeps inventing new ideas. You are always attracted to something that is different as it tests and challenges you. But Shamitabh is no different from any other of his enterprises. It is yet again another unique story and one that Indian cinema has not seen before.
Your name is referenced in a film title...
That’s true. But it’s not just there for the sake of my name, it is there for a certain reason which is there in the script.
The promo for Shamitabh has left people trying to guess it’s plot. Comment!
This is all Balki’s doing. We have a relationship where we discuss almost everything. If there’s something troubling me, I call him up, if there is something he wants to run through me, he calls. It’s a very healthy combination of ideas, but eventually of course, it’s the director’s call. I mean even if I were to disagree, I would respect his call as the final one.
You have the maximum number of followers on Twitter, have you ever tried to analyse why?
No. I am just happy that it has happened. I keep putting out my blog and there are a few regulars that I keep talking to. It is very difficult for me to go through everyone’s tweets, but I try as much as I can. All they want is a hi and a hello and to be noticed. It’s the least that we can do.
Blogging’s part of your daily routine?
Yes, I write everyday. I need to. If I don’t write, then I get hit on the head by followerasking, ‘Where are you? Are you okay?Why haven’t you blogged?’. Sometimes I forget to press the ‘post’ button and my phone is filled with mails saying ‘Mr Bachchan, you have forgotten to press the ‘post’ button, the blog is not out.’
What is the one lesson that you have learnt from working with youngsters?
I am in great admiration of the new generation. They are very spontaneous, they are very determined, very aggressive, know exactly what they want and how to get there. They are also very brave and a million times better than what we were at that age. I am so happy and fortunate that I get to work in projects with them despite the very large age difference. But it’s a great learning for me, I love to be in their company to see how they work, to learn from them. It is a very exciting time for Indian cinema and the amount of talent that comes out every Friday is amazing and it can only bode well for all of us.
There is a director hidden inside every actor. Agree?
I don’t know direction. Sometimes, when you are enacting a sequence you may want to give your own input on how you want to say it, the way you want to move, what you want to do, sit, stand, run, cry, laugh. These are some things that are individual in an actor, but the director is the ultimate authority and he will have to decide and it will become my imperative duty to obey him. I really don’t know how to put together a scene, there enough stuff to do in front of the camera and say your lines, but to be able to direct is tough.
Is there anything you want to learn this year?
I wish I could, but there’s no time. Technology changes every five minutes so one tries to keep up with it and you feel left behind in the race if you are not up-to-date. There are so many things, if you could learn how to sing or play an instrument, piano or a language perhaps...
What are the reactions you are getting for Shweta’s column in After Hrs?
She’s always been a very good writer. She has a lot of hidden talents which she’s never put out to the public. But I am really happy that she does this column. It has a style and is very different. Lot of people say many nice things to her after reading it which is a moment of great pride for the father.
What is your barometer of success? Is it `500 crore, your satisfaction as a performer or the audience feedback on social media?
Somewhere a bit of everything. Primarily, I hope that people like me and if that comes true, it’s great. At the same time, your next job will depend upon box-office success so that is an area of concern. And then of course, the critics and what they say is all welcome.
Recently Deepika spoke about how she battled depression, have you ever faced that?
I don’t know the extent of what Deepika has said. But I think it’s very honest and daring of Deepika to talk about it not so much to gain from it, but to make people aware of it. Awareness is a huge factor in most illnesses. I work for diabetes and tuberculosis, and will be working for hepatitis, and they are all very prominent diseases, many of them people are unaware of how to avoid, or at times are even unaware that they are affected by it. If I am going to be talking about a particular disease and know enough about it, I would definitely do it. We did that with polio, worked for eight years and finally India is today polio-free. I am not saying that we don’t go through phases where you are depressed or frustrated. All of us go through it, but we try and find a way out.
Would you consider investing 12 years of your life into making a movie like Richard Linklater did, with Boyhood?
Anybody wanting to do that now with me would be stupid because I probably won’t be alive by then! But it’s a great creative effort and it is very remarkable how somebody can have the patience to wait for a kid to grow for 12 years and continue to make this film. I think it is fantastic.
Stay tuned to BollywoodLife for the latest scoops and updates from Bollywood, Hollywood, South, TV and Web-Series.
Click to join us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Also follow us on Facebook Messenger for latest updates.