Superstar Amitabh Bachchan's most-awaited film this year, Ravi Chopra's Baabul, brings together the superhit jodi of Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini once again. The film which is based on the widow remarriage releases on December 8. Diganta Guha speaks to the actor:
Is it disturbing to see so much media intrusion in the personal lives of the Bachchans?
Media intrusion is a part of celebrity and public life. One must be prepared to accept and face it. If it disturbs you, avoid being a public figure...simple!
Do we see you, Jayaji and Abhishek in Pradeep Sarkar’s film?
I am not in Pradeep Sarkar’s film, Jaya and Abhishek are.
There has been a lot of talk about the treatment meted out to you by the organisers of the International Film Festival of India. The authorities have also harassed you about tax problems. Do you pay the price for being Amitabh Bachchan?
There is no harassment or any maltreatment by organisers or authorities towards me. There are democratic norms that run this country and rules and regulations and a potent legal system that govern over all. If you do something illegal, no one will protect and save you. If you do something that is legal, no one will have the capacity to harm you.
On a different note, Farhan Akhtar’s Don has had mixed response. Is it the flipside of making a remake?
I do not know. Creative license is a liberty we all enjoy in a free society. Every one must have the freedom to exercise it.
Your next release is Baabul — a pucca Indian film. Do you think the message of the film will appeal to today's high-tech age?
Any film made with sincerity and honesty will attract the audience. Baabul is that. Yes, it is traditional and addresses a social ailment, but tradition cannot be bigger than the human. We cannot respect tradition and not respect the human that makes tradition.
High-tech will and should have its place and importance in today’s rapidly changing environment, but how can we forget our 5000-year history and culture and ethos? I believe the Indian audience has a place for all creativity it encounters. The human heart is the same in the entire universe. If something touches it, it will react and approve and comment.
This is India. We are Indian and we make Indian films. Our audiences are Indian. Whether it appeals to them or not is not the issue. The issue is whether a step was taken in the right direction or not. I believe it has been taken.
Please elaborate on your character in the film.
Baabul is the name given to the father of the bride. I believe it is mentioned only once when the kanyadaan has to take place at the time of the wedding. He is the one that gives his daughter away.
In the film, despite being the father of the groom, my character takes it upon himself to rehabilitate the life of his own daughter-in-law when he loses his son. In effect, he tries to find a groom for his daughter-in-law.
So, in effect, he becomes the Baabul, the person who will give his daughter away were an alliance to take place. The character believes that once the bahu comes into his house, she takes the place of and becomes the daughter of the house.
One of the USPs of the film is the Amitabh Bachchan-Hema Malini jodi. Are expectations piling up?
Good — we feel honoured that there can still be expectations from us, even at this age.
You have tried your hand at singing once again in Baabul. Which is your favourite track?
I like the title track and the song Baawri pia ki.
How do you rate Rang De Basanti’s chances at the Oscars?
Because we are Indian and the film is ours, we have the highest expectancy, obviously. But the authorities at the Oscars will decide what they think of it. It is their award. If it was ours, we would have given it RDB.
2006 has been great for you as a whole — good projects, Doctorates and all. What does the legend promise his fans next year?
Hopefully more films.
If you are to sum up this year from the film industry's point of view, how would you do it?
Truly the best ever. The quality of films, their commercial prospects and their presence worldwide. Never had it so good. And I would like to believe this is just the beginning.