Although Amitabh Bachchan teamed up with some of the best actors in the just-released Eklavya, it is Vidya Balan who has impressed him the most.
"I've a special soft corner for her. She's absolutely marvellous and so wonderfully natural. She's so endearing to watch on screen," Amitabh told IANS.
Excerpts from an interview:
Vidhu Vinod Chopra and you seemed to have established a very special rapport.
He's a kind human being and very passionate about his work. He has a keen eye for aesthetics. He creates an atmosphere conducive to good work. We waited 30 years to work together. All directors must work towards building a rapport with their actors.
Eklavya is an intriguing film. The visuals may suggest a mythological or a period film. But Eklavya is modern contemporary thriller. It's set in today's Rajasthan.
It is a very short film....
It's just about two hours long. That's fine. You don't need too much time to spread out a dramatic thriller. Every film has its own rhythm.
You've been giving TV interviews on Eklavya in super cool sunglasses?
Oh those were for a particular reason. I had been shooting the whole time for Ram Gopal Varma's Sholay. The role of Gabbar requires me to wear contact lenses. These left me with blood-shot eyes and no choice but to wear sunglasses for the interview that followed the shooting.
Chopra insists Eklavya is your best performance.
That's his viewpoint. I don't agree with him. True, I've never done anything like this film. I did have a cameo in Shah Rukh Khan's Paheli where I was similarly dressed. But all told my physical appearance is very different in Eklavya.
<b1>You hated the beard, didn't you?
It's such a pain! Once you stick on the beard with gum it just restricts your facial movements and irritates you. God bless Pran Saab. He's a master with beards. And he managed to work so wonderfully with them. Vinod and I have agreed that if I'm required to wear a beard in my next film with him, everyone else on the crew would've to do the same.
Does that apply to Vidya Balan too?
Provided she's part of the next film.
You had to recite lengthy dialogues in sync sound.
That was tough. But when you have to do something, you do it. The false beard made the dialogues difficult. Vinod suggested I take six months off and grow a real beard. That's the level of commitment. But my other commitments do not allow me the luxury of changing my physical appearance.
But others in Eklavya went out of the way. Sanjay Dutt cut his hair. Jackie Shroff grew a beard. It would've taken me a couple of years to grow the beard that was required to play Eklavya.
Most of the Eklavya cast is new to you.
Except Sanjay. He has a unique personality. You could put him in any circumstance, his presence and personality take care of everything. He's one of the most lovable persons in the film industry.
He's adopted Abhishek as his younger brother. I know Sanjay from the time I came to Mumbai to become an actor. Dutt saab (Sunil Dutt) and Nargisji had taken me under their wings, nurtured me...
And Saif Ali Khan?
He has evolved beautifully. Thank god we saw his potential bloom in Dil Chahta Hai. Subsequently he has improved with every project right up to Omkara. It's a great joy being with actors like Saif. The amount of care and dedication that they give to their roles is wonderful.
I've a special soft corner for her. She's absolutely marvellous and so wonderfully natural. She's so endearing to watch on screen. When I saw her in Parineeta for the first time in Amsterdam, I wanted to look only at her and nobody else on screen... with all due respects to the rest of the cast.
Finally, the wedding date of Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai ?
We're still in discussion. As soon as we firm in, we'll get them married.