Get this. I’m skating on thin ice, professional/personal. He’s my baba, I’m his khaala (don’t know why he gave me that nickname but it stuck).
There’s been this robustly mutual regard methinks.. ever since he was the Bambi-eyed kid watching me interview his dad. How time zips.
The nation and more so, the media’s curiosity is at its peak about his upcoming marriage to Aishwarya Rai, in my eyes the most beautiful woman in the
world (after my mum, that is).
To cut to the chase, I’m at his neatnik office in Juhu. On the stairs, I pass by Boss Bachchan feeling oh-I’d-like-tochat-with-him.. but what to do?..I have another job to perform. How wonderful, it would have been if a KM Jr was doing an AB Jr q and a. Aaah, never mind that silly story of my life.
Abhishek Bachchan is across a desk, I’ve organised my mutinous back in the sit-right posture, I escalate an eyebrow at the much-photographed headband keeping Junior’s long hairlocks in a semblance of order..to ask..
<b1>What’s with that hair-ishtyle Baba?
Hopefully, it’s there only till April for Drona. You think I like maintaining my hair like this? It’s quite cumbersome. I was shooting for Shaad’s (Ali Khan) Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, with long hair and a moustache. Goldie saw it, liked it and wanted me to keep it longer..so.
You look more in shape after the kilos you put on for Guru.
Not entirely. I’d gone right till 91 kg.. now I’m 84 kg, must lose five more.
How did you sustain the look for different age spans of Guru?
It was shot chronologically from start to finish in three months, that helped to sustain the physical aspect. It was challenging.
What do actors mean by challenging?
Anything that’s a cakewalk isn’t satisfying. Like you wouldn’t be doing this interview if it wasn’t challenging..like you have to match wits with the person you’re interviewing.
Actually Mani sir (Ratnam) was planning quite another film.. on the life of a criminal in Manchester. He faces adversities, redeems himself.. halfway through the script he felt it wasn’t what he wanted to make.
So Mani sir switched to a veiled biography of Dhirubhai Ambani?
This wasn’t mentioned to me ever.
But every character in the film was drawn from Mr Ambani’s life.
That’s your perception. Anyone who has seen Guru will tell you that.
Then it’s their perception.
But no, there was no intention to make a biopic. Perhaps certain characteristics were drawn from various people which Mani sir always does.
Hello, didn’t you have a role model?
Khaala, no. To be honest I have often drawn inspiration from reallife people. I’ve never admitted this but the Lallan of Yuva was inspired by Amar Singhji, his confidence, and some of his mannerisms. And if you really must know, in Guru I was totally inspired by my dear friend and former producer Vashu Bhagnani.
Excuse me, say that again.
Yes absolutely, I drew from the way Vashuji smiles, laughs, loves to keep serving food and drinks, always sprightly, on-the-go, eager..someone who can’t sit or stand still. I hope he doesn’t get upset if he reads this.
Huh? He should feel flattered.
I hope he does.
Vashu Bhagnani doesn’t wear pinstriped suits. Dhirubhai Ambani did.
(Sombrely) Mr Ambani was never given to me as a reference point.
How did the Ambanis react to the film?
They loved it.
No talks on the similarities?
Anilji said he enjoyed the film..so did Tina aunty..but then she could have been biased, she’s been fond of me ever since I was a kid.
<b3>That last soliloquy in
Guru, how was that one shot done?
In six different ways and speeds. It was rehearsed for a day, shot in a day. It had to be done in one take for the fluidity of the performance.
Would you term the Guru performance as your career-best?
I can’t be a judge of this. I’ve done 30 films to date..each one of them has been special. Guru has collected Rs 60 crore gross domestic..it has got glowing reviews from critics who have more knowledge about cinema than I do..what more could an actor want? Money. It comes and goes. As long as I can go to bed every night peacefully.
You could get a better bed.
Not possible..I sleep on the ground because of my bad back.
What does acting mean to you?
I don’t want to know. Or else, it’ll cease to be magical.
What does love mean to you?
Very clever, khaala. I don’t know much about love.
That’ll make a super heading.. “I don’t know much about love.”
Come on, every one knows what love is.
Even I do. (Pause) Love is absolutely unconditional.
Not bad. And hello, why has Sanjay Gadhvi, the director of Dhoom, been badmouthing you?
Now you’re acting.
Have I ever lied to you? I’ve been travelling, I haven’t read his statements. See, he’s entitled to his opinions. Maybe I’ll have to work harder for him next time..if there’s a next time.
Weren’t you totally subverted in Dhoom 2 ?
The first Dhoom was my first success, ACP Jai Dixit and Ali had to be a part of the sequel. In any case, Dhoom has been about villains. John Abraham was tremendous in the first part, the next one had to be bigger and badder the way it is in the Superman and Batman series.
I knew what was happening..no matter..it was terrific to work with my childhood friends Hrithik and Uday..and of course Bipasha Basu and Aishwarya Rai.
Who? Say that again..you mean Ash.
There has been talk that you’re playing a superhero in Drona to upstage Krrish?
I don’t know where such stories start from. We’re not catering to each other, we’re making films for the audience. Krrish was outstanding. In fact, I’m a die-hard fan of Rakesh Roshanji’s films right from Khudgarz, he has that special magical quality which was once a hallmark of Manmohan Desai.
Listen I want to go back to Ash if I may.
Aishwarya you mean..she’s a friend, she’s my fiancée.
How did you propose to her? Evidently successfully.
Khaala you’re not going to trap me.
Tell me about the special moment just before proposing marriage to her.
Wonderful try khaala..but that will always be between her and me.
Are you in love?
Obviously. Stop sparring with me. What’s within my heart and house doesn’t have to go outside.
Chalo, can I ask you why you’re not in Rakeysh Mehra’s Delhi 6 ?
Unfortunately, I had committed the winter months to Goldie for Drona. Rakeysh is a buddy, we’re looking at two projects to do together. Actually, I was to do my first film with him — Samjhauta Express. But then he opted for Aks.
Didn’t he offer you Rang de Basanti?
Yes, he did, it was called Paint it Yellow then. I was incapable of understanding all the nuances of the film at that time. I do regret not doing it, that’s life.
Aha, listen I want to go back to Ash if I may.
Stop it khaala. Can’t.
Listen I want to go back..
For me Aishwarya is real.
Hmm. Fine, are you planning to do films together?
Yes Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar 2. And the Dharma production directed by Tarun Mansukhani and another by Rohan Sippy? Yes..we hope to start on Tarun’s film in June.
<b5>Will you allow Ash to continue acting?
Who am I to stop anyone from acting? Why is there a huge debate on this? I’m the son of an actor, my mother is an actor. Get it?
Aren’t you a bit pampered?
I think I’m loved, not pampered. A bit of a kid? For you maybe. There’s a child in everyone, there should be.
How do you feel about getting married?
What about that penthouse on Bandra, Carter Road, that’s being built for you?
Oof, that’s not my house please ..it’s my chacha’s house. I’m very happy staying with my parents.. thanks.. now khaala stop!