This should have been Amitji’s 25th National Award,” was director R Balki’s reaction to 67-year-old Amitabh Bachchan winning his fourth National Award for a heart-tugging performance as 13-year-old Auro in his film
(2009). Bachchan returned the compliment by saying Balki deserved an award too for conceptualising such a unique role and casting him in it. “If I were in Auro’s shoes, I’d do a monkey dance at this moment,” he laughs.
The duo is now set to collaborate on a third film, after
. “It will be produced by AB Corp and should flag off by the year-end,” informs Bachchan.
Before that, the actor will start shooting for Raj Kumar Santoshi’s next, tentatively titled
. He has also given the nod to Prakash Jha’s
and Puri Jagannanth’s
. Of Puri he says, “He’s a top Telugu director who directed
, the film Salman’s (Khan)
was based on. He now wants me for a Hindi film titled
meaning old man.”
that flags off on his 68th birthday, October 11. “The response at the auditions was unbelievable!” he exclaims. “It’s been 10 years but the interest hasn’t waned. It’s this love that I receive from people that gives me the strength to go on and do shows like
and films like
Shah Rukh Khan is currently shooting for
in a body suit that prevents him from eating or drinking on the sets, resulting in alarming weight loss. Does SRK’s ordeal bring back memories of his own during
? “It was a strain sitting in make-up for five hours everyday,” admits Bachchan. “But it is the passion for cinema that inspires Shah Rukh, Salman, me and others to push the envelope.”
He adds that SRK and he have been chatting on Twitter and after learning about the younger actor’s frequent bouts of flu, had warned him that his body’s resistance was dipping. “Shah Rukh called me recently to say that he’s better now. He needs to get out of that body suit and start eating again,” says a concerned Bachchan.<b1>
Having swept every Best Actor award since
release, was he expecting the National Award? “We don’t work expecting to win awards. We only want the film to turn out the way it has been conceived. With
, every day and every scene brought fresh challenges,” he recalls.
“Fortunately, the response was overwhelming since the first promos. And it’s wonderful that this unique film has now been recognised by the government of India and the National Award jury.”
This is Bachchan’s fourth National Award, after
(2005). “The first one was for the Most Promising Newcomer. I learnt about it during a shoot in Chennai. At the time, the National Award travelled to different cities and I received it from Mr M Karunanidhi, the then Chief Minister, at a ceremony in Chennai,” he reminisces.
He is now looking forward to the ceremony in Delhi.
Abhishek will be with him and go up on stage too to accept the award for Paa that has been adjudged Best Hindi film. Also present will be his grandmother Bum, since Arundhati Nag has been voted Best Supporting Actress. He exults, “It’ll be a proud moment for all of us and AB Corp too!”