Abhishek Bachchan turns 36 today. This day last year, he was in Wellington filming Players, the Indianised remake of The Italian Job. It was a working birthday for Junior B, but wife Aishwarya had flown down to New Zealand and was by his side when he cut a three-tiered chocolate cake on the sets.
Later in the evening, Mr and Mrs B, along with Abhishek’s Players co-stars, Sonam Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Omi Vaidya and Sikander Kher, had celebrated with a bash hosted by director duo Abbas-Mustan at the hotel. And then they had taken the party into the streets and the city centre, where 30,000 exuberant rugby fans in the team colours had also gathered to toast NZI Seven’s victory.
“I love surprises. I have surprised many of my friends on their birthdays. This time my wife sprang a surprise on me,” Abhishek had smiled happily when I had met him a week later in Auckland. “I also like presents, though I’ve never been good at asking for them or even knowing what I want. I’m happy with whatever I get.”
Aishwarya gave him the best birthday present he could have asked for last year. After weeks of endless speculations, Beti B, as she’s still called, entered the world on November 16, and was welcomed by Daddy B with an ecstatic whoop on Twitter, “It’s a girl!”
Two months and three weeks after she grabbed headlines across the country… and the world… Beti B is having her first day out. After begging a quick break from Rohit Shetty’s Bol Bachchan shoot, Abhishek has taken off with ‘biwi’ (wife) and ‘beti’ (daughter) to bring in his birthday at an unrevealed destination because he doesn’t want to be chased by popping flashbulbs and quote-hungry journos. All we know is that it’s somewhere within the country, because Beti B is not even three months old and daddy’s expected back at work soon.
Incidentally, for the last four years, Abhishek’s been having a working birthday. Even last Saturday, January 28, he had spent his birthday, as per the Hindu calendar, and the festival of Basant Panchami, on the sets of Bol Bachchan after a quick visit to the temple. But he wanted a holiday with the two most beautiful women in the world for him on his ‘actual’ birthday. And got it too! I’d wondered 12 months ago if the 30s was any different from the 20s and Abhishek had deadpanned, “No, I’m pretty much the same guy. The only difference is that I didn’t have a stubble in my 20s.”
Did 35 feel any different from 34, I had prodded, and he had chuckled, “Well, for starters, I am a year older… And wiser too, I hope.” This year, he’s not around to answer my questions but I know that if I were to ask him how it felt to be 36, he’d probably quip, “Well, for starters, I am a year older… And now a daddy too.” And that, with or without a stubble, is a big difference!