Abhishek discusses everything from rapping to his next release Housefull 3, his passion for sports and Aaradhya...
Abhishek Bachchan is known to be very formal and proper. One would think, during the first meeting, that he’s almost made of cold steel — no emotions. After a number of meetings, he begins to thaw. And you know when he lets down his guard and you begin to see the sensitive, humorous, fun, cool person he truly is. I figure he must be exhausted from the many media interviews, so we wind up earlier than expected. “Oh good! Now, I can go and play with Aaradhya!” Abhishek tells me. She has arrived the night before after traveling to Cannes with her mom Aishwarya. That’s AB for you. Over to him as we chat on everything from rapping to his next release Housefull 3, his passion for sports and Aaradhya...
You have a very serious, intense image and yet you have starred in two comedies Bol Bachchan and now, Housefull 3. Is it fun doing comedies?
It’s hard work. Comedy is the toughest genre today because of the kind of timing, energy level, repartee and chemistry is all integral in making a successful comedy.
You play a budding rapper in Housefull 3. Have you rapped in your own voice?
I have, but I don’t know if they’ve retained it. I haven’t rapped in the songs but in the film, I have... yes.
It’s known that you can rap well. Have you ever thought of cutting your own album or even a single?
There were thoughts to do one when Bluffmaster released in 2001. When we recorded 'Right Here Right Now', the music directors Vishal-Shekhar, Rohan (Sippy, the director) and I had recorded eight tracks but that’s where it started and ended. We never pursued it after that. What I realised when we brought out those tracks, what I realised then was that if you want to bring out an album, you have to take time aside and dedicate yourself to it. It can’t be a fly-by-night kind of operation thing. One has to practise and dedicate that kind of time, which I never managed to do.
Apart from playing a rapper in Housefull 3, what else do you do?
That’s a very vague question, Upala… What else? (laughs as I rephrase my question)
Do you play a happy-go-lucky person or someone intense and moody?
I think everybody in the film is a happy-go-lucky person. What I liked about my character was the dilemma that he faces in the film.
Do you play a happy-go-lucky person?
I think everybody in the film is a happy-go-lucky person. What I liked about my character was the dilemma that he faces in the film. Being a rapper, he’s somebody who is verbose. He has the gift of the gab and loves to talk but when he comes to the house he pretends to be mute, so there is a dichotomy there. I have to express myself in a very animated way. Akshay plays a footballer and he pretends to be handicapped, Riteish is a race car driver who pretends to be blind while I am a rapper who pretends to be mute, so the dilemma is that all these guys cannot bank on the one thing that they actually use the most in life.
I thought was a great premise to set a film and you knew that it would be a complete comedy of errors after that. It just sets off a huge laugh riot. And to certain people in the house, while I am a mute, to others I am a cripple so there’s a jugglery of everything which leads to chaos and is great fun! I didn’t know, but there’s a lot of excitement regarding the film, which makes you realise how popular the franchise is. This year has had some beautiful releases, but most of them have been in the serious genre. I think Housefull 3 is the first out-and-out family comedy and it’s coming out at the perfect time when exams are over so you can go out and have a blast with your family.
Akshay, Riteish or you who is Mr FunnyBones (the funniest)?
Well Akshay is, right? Because Tina is Mrs Funny Bones!
Off-screen who is the funniest?
We all have a great sense of humour. Akshay’s great fun to be with and he’s very jovial on the sets. We always had great fun on the sets. There was also Chunky, Boman, the three girls and then the directors Sajid-Farhad, who are fantastic with their humour. Most of the scenes are with almost everybody, so there was a huge amount of camaraderie on the sets. We did everything together — travel to work together, after work gym together, went to movies together and even when we were not shooting, we would come on the sets as there was a huge amount of camaraderie happening.
You are so good with humour, action, drama — everything yet why do we get to see you in so few films?
Jo milte hai wohi karta hoon main… Beggars can’t be choosers (smiles wryly). Also how many actors do you see doing 30 films in a year? Most of the actors do one or two films in a year. Movies today are very immersive as a process — from pre to post production you have to be involved in everything. Then you have to set aside four to six weeks just for promotions. It demands a lot of time and those times are gone when you make a film over three-four years. Now a film is shot in six months and between the prep period, production and shooting, around 10-12 months go without you knowing where time’s flown by.
You were the first star to bring sports like kabaddi into the limelight. Why did you choose rough sports like kabaddi and not a popular sport of cricket?
It was just for the love of sports. Also very honestly, I don’t know much about cricket. I am just a cricket fan, but I don’t know the ins and outs of the game. I was very sure that if I had to get involved in a game, I had to know the difference. Cricket has a brilliant infrastructure across the country and there’s very little value to add to that. I wanted to get involved in sports in which I could make a difference to and improve the situation. I have played kabaddi in school and am well-versed in the game.
Ever played kabbadi with your team?
Yes, I play kabaddi with my team members, too, all the time during practice sessions. This year I won’t be able to, because of my injury, but for the last few years, I have practised with both my teams. You will be shocked at the amount of strategy that goes into kabaddi and that it’s a complete cerebral game. People think it’s an aggressive game and about josh but no. It’s about the position, how and when to raid and how to defend. It’s a thinking man’s sport. Nobody believes it, but once you get involved in the sport you realise you have to think and be very alert.
You were injured and in bed for a month.
Yes, I had a slipped disc. It just happened and can happen to anybody anytime. I was laid up in bed, got back on my feet and did my physiotherapy. In another couple of weeks, I should be clear to get back to normal. It was terribly boring though being laid up in bed for a month. Contrary to what you might think that I just lay on my back and watched TV, let me tell you, there’s only so much TV you watch. It’s very boring but thank God for play stations. I got to play a lot of the new games.
When you have a serious injury there’s also the fact that you don’t succumb to the lows of whether you will get better completely or you pull yourself up and back and get going. You have to literally encourage and motivate yourself to get better and moving. Injuries teach a lot about your own character — how you bounce back from them. I think that’s with any setback in life. It’s about anybody who goes through any setback in life and how he/she deals with it. It teaches you a lot about what kind of character you have.
How do you motivate yourself?
Well, I have injured myself so many times in so many parts of my body that I am kind of used to it by now (laughs). I remember when I was a kid and learning how to ride, the horse threw me off. The first thing my teacher told me was ‘Get back on the horse right now!’ because if you don’t get back on right now you probably won’t get back on again. I remember I was shooting for Drona in Namibia. In one of the takes, the horse got scared, took a sharp turn and I got thrown off the horse across almost 20 feet. When I landed, Goldie panicked and came running to see if I was okay.
My head was a foot away from a rock. He wanted to pack up immediately but I said no, ‘Let’s do the take’ because if I didn’t then that fear would have set in and I would never have been able to ride a horse again. That’s been my thing. You could get knocked down seven times, so you get up the eighth time. As Rocky Balboa says, “It’s not about how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward.” You gotta get up and get moving! I don’t question these things. It’s just who I am.
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