A Leading psychoanalyst of Mumbai recently said that every Mumbaikar thinks of him at least once a day. Truth or exaggeration, the Big Boss is on street hoardings, TV commercial spots and multiplexes. Every little twitch of his eyebrow currently makes news.
In a hotel suite at Juhu, just a sneeze away from his house, he’s answering questions with some degree of animation, some degree of weariness, but always somehow with his classic professionalism and savoir faire. Like journos from various publications, I’ve been assigned half an hour. My time starts now:
What’s the state of your mind at this very moment?
We are doing this promotional thing for Nishabd. Lot of interviews..lots of similar questions and lots of same answers. In fact, it’s quite daunting to answer the same kind of questions from 25 people in a different manner. You have to make sure that every journalist has got the quotes others haven’t.
But you’ve been doing this for ages now.
(Coolly) Yes of course! This is part of our profession. And I’m okay with it. Naturally, I can’t be the so-called ‘angry young man’ anymore. There was a time when I was playing only leading roles, I wasn’t taking chances of doing any other roles, today I can afford to try the unconventional.
Your performance in Eklavya was flawless but the film hasn’t struck up encouraging collections at the box office. Are you disheartened?
Thank you for praising my performance.. but I really don’t know the commercial side of what’s happening to Eklavya. It’s a very-well made film and I’ve been reading some very wonderful reviews, particularly in the foreign press.
It’s an intelligent film. The thinking behind Eklavya – to retell a legend and make it relevant to today – is revolutionary.
Surely you are disappointed when any one of your films doesn’t do well commercially.
We don’t know the actual facts. There are different opinions about the fate of Eklavya. Vinod (Chopra) informed me that Eklavya has crossed the first weekend collections of Lage Raho Munnabhai in Mumbai and Delhi. If that is so, then it speaks a lot about the commercial viability of Eklavya.
In any case, there’s great satisfaction from just being a part of a great product.
Have there been instances of films collapsing commercially though you believed in them implicitly?
Oh yes. We work hard on every film but every one of them can’t be a success. So, it’s only human to be disappointed.
Sexy Sam in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, now Nishabd and then Cheeni Kum... also about an old man and a much younger woman.. is this a conscious makeover?
What? No, no, I’m still the same man, the same actor. But circumstances have changed, unconventional subjects are being attempted. And the more varied the roles for an actor, the more exciting the day at the studio.
Naturally I can’t be the so-called , “angry young man” anymore. There was a time when I was playing only leading roles, I wasn’t taking chances of doing any other role. Today, I can afford to try the unconventional.
Still, won’t the very notion of a 60-plus man with an 18-year-old girl offend your die-hard fans?
I think our audience is more than mature.. they can see we’re only narrating a fictional story though cinema. The perception about Nishabd will change once it is released. Why have any preconceived notions at this moment?
Are you saying that the perception of the film being circulated in the media is not correct?
I think it’s wrong to give the impression that
is all about sexuality What we are saying is.. what if a 60-year-old man gets attracted to a teenage girl?
Nearly a decade ago, Ram Gopal Varma was supposed to direct a Telugu film for AB Corp. What happened?
That was a long time ago.
There was news about a fall-out between Mr Varma and you since he didn’t do the project eventually.
There was no fall-out. I’m not aware of what you’re saying at all. Now we are working together. Hopefully he’ll direct a film for AB , Corp soon.
What is update on your home production?
We have a couple of ideas for movie projects, we’re looking forward to putting it all together.
Trade circles say that AB Corp will make a film soon with Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Jaya Bachchan and yourself.
Recently, somebody asked me a question – since there are four actors in your family now, is there a possibility of all of you working together? And I said, “Why not?”
There is also talk of AB Corp remaking Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan.
Yes, there is this project which we were planning to make with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra but it’s still in the formative stage. It may or may not be made.
Don’t you think the relationship between an actor and a director keeps fluctuating?
I think there are different aspects to this question. I could be a director’s friend but never work with him and vice versa. I share a working relationship with Ram Gopal Varma which could be different from a personal relationship with him. He is intelligent, he has tremendous knowledge of Indian cinema. He’s passionate and is always buzzing with new thoughts.
Once you shared a close friendship with Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai. Is that kind of friendship possible with any director today?
You can’t label friendship.. but yes it was a long personal and working relationship with Manji and Mr Prakash Mehra. Ramu is not a social animal but we still meet and discuss cinema.
Isn’t Abhishek Bachchan also following the same route by working with his friends Goldie Behl and Rohan Sippy?
Definitely. When an actor works with someone who is his friend, there is a certain comfort zone for sure.
Why do you think that the Bachchan family is always under the scrutiny of the media?
Nothing wrong with that. If you go out in a public place you can’t stop the media from reporting this. I don’t run the media, they decide what’s worth scrutiny and what isn’t.
There are rumours that you may host a TV talk show, shortly.
No, I’m not doing TV.
I’m sure you know the next question.
No, I don’t.
Have you seen KBC?
Yes, now I have. I hadn’t earlier.
How do you rate Shah Rukh Khan as teh KBC host?
Shah Rukh is fine.
What’s your view on the show?
Oh! It’s fine.. the show is fine. It’s a great show. The show has so much material and potential.. that’s why it’s running in 80 to 90 countries.
How do you see Abhishek Bachchan’s career today?
I think Abhishek is progressing, he has been moving forward. He took a giant leap forward with Guru which is very satisfying to me as a father. That was a difficult role portrayed perfectly by him.
Will Aishwarya Rai continue to act after marriage?
That’s a decision which Abhishek and she need to take. I’ve no objections.
How do you feel when the media fixes the Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding date?
(Smiles) Oh! They’ve got it all wrong.
Lastly, what do you dislike about the media?
Nothing at all. They gather and project news which is a very difficult task. There are so many channels and newspapers.. so much competition. I don’t envy them at all.