Superstar Amitabh Bachchan just couldn't stop reminiscing the times he'd spent with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, while paying his tribute to the late maestro.
"Hrishida was like a father figure to me and my wife, Jaya. Working with him was an unbelievable experience because his style of film-making was never to compromise on quality and on the story ideas," Bachchan told BBC News.
Bachchan, who played many memorable roles under Mukherjee, dismissed largely held view that the late director's movies had lost touch with modern day audiences.
"I think it's wrong to say his kind of cinema doesn't work any longer. I'm sure if Hrishida were to make those kinds of films again, it would certainly have an audience. He never pandered to any baser instincts, and he set his own path, which was neither too artistic nor too commercial".
The megastar was lavish in his praise for the late director's superlative art of characterisation. "They were all exceptionally well-etched and, of course, the greatest opportunity to perform for me has been for his films. His characters were close to reality, and certainly the scenes that were written and the situations that we were put in, were so genuine and real and realistic that they gave great opportunities to actors. His knowledge of the craft was so immense that we just left ourselves in his hands."
|Amitabh Bachchan recalls Hrishikesh Mukherjee as a father figure|
"One of the most interesting characters I played was in
which came much before the 1973 film 'Zanjeer', when my so-called image of Indian cinema's 'angry young man' was seemingly established. Not only that, most of the interesting characters that I've played have been in his films- be it
the superstar of the millennium said.
For an actor of Bachchan's stature, who worked with many directors throughout his career, Mukherjee always deserved a special place.
"I have never worked for an image. I continued working with Hrishida, much after working with directors like Salim/Javed, Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai," added Bachchan.
Narrating how Mukherjee was in the sets, the actor said: "We never heard any scripts, never heard any stories - we just came on the sets. He told us to stand there, walk here, say it in this manner, speak like this - that's how he used to direct all of us. So our input was nothing at all. All that you see in his films is entirely his input."
Whenever there was any difficulty in executing a complex character, the late director was always available to ensure the scenes went on without suffering any jolts.
"If it was a complex character like in Mili, we would sit together and he would give a one-line description and then guide us as the scenes came," said Bachchan.
"You actually saw your character unfold before you. It felt good - I felt that I had left myself in the hands of a master. One really didn't have to worry because one knew that Hrishida was going to mould you," he added.
"His films were full of delightful subtleties and became great cinema. It is difficult to pick one character and say that's the best - there was Anand and Abhimaan, Mili too - all of them unbelievable moments in film-making.
Amitabh churned out the choicest laurels for Mukherjee's impeccable editing.
"He was a master editor and knew his craft incredibly well - he would shoot a scene and you would know nothing about it till you saw it. And yet when you saw it finished, it was amazing how well he had actually conceived the thing. He could do the last shot first and could put something in the middle days later and it was just marvellous to see a person so gifted."