There are two answers everyone would like from Amitabh Bachchan right now — What son Abhishek’s marriage date will be and what he thinks of Shah Rukh Khan as the new host of Kaun Banega Crorepati.
The Big B dismisses both queries with curt replies. So the subject, then, turns to the movies.
First, his English film with Rituparno Ghosh that is based on Utpal Dutt’s play, Aajker Shajahan. “All of Ritu’s scripts are unique, or else he wouldn’t be Rituparno Ghosh. This one is very challenging for me as an actor,” he says.
He gets nostalgic when discussing Utpal Dutt, who was a co-star in his debut, Saat Hindustani.
“I have admired and loved his stage performances. His prolific talent was never ever tested in Hindi cinema and justice was never done to his creativity,” says Bachchan, adding, “He was a most humble and loveable human. There was a childlike quality about him, very endearing and warm. He had the capacity to adapt himself into any circumstance. To be involved in a film, based on a play written and acted by him, is an honour and an impossible task to emulate.”
Bachchan also says he hasn’t seen any of Ghoshs’s films completely except for Antar Mahal, but “Jaya (Bachchan) has clued me in with a lot of his work and she is fond of him, as is Abhishek. That is sufficient for me. I respect their judgement.”
If he copes with a teenager’s affections in Nishabd, he plays the trusted guard of a royal family in Eklavya. Havind done his own stunts for Eklavya, he says, “All stunts are dangerous. Jumping off a building or just taking a punch in the stomach is equal in intensity... and there is no one better than me to talk about it. But nowadays there are huge precautionary measures taken to ensure that nothing goes wrong. However freak accidents do happen and that is all part of the game.”
This is his first film with Chopra, about whom Bachchan says, “He’s passionate maker and a stickler for detail and aesthetics,” adding, “His film and his crew mean the world to him. He is completely detached from the rest of the world and goes to any length to get what he wants. And what he wants is often not easy to get. That is the challenge he puts before all those that work with him.”
He further continues, “His thought process is progressive, but if even a spot boy has a point of disagreement, he will give him a patient ear, and if convinced, submit. This is a great quality. I shall be working on other projects with him soon.”
Nishabd, he says, is not based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Lolita. “A young girl gets attracted to an elderly man — married and domesticated. It’s a perfectly normal occurrence in life. Things happen sometimes. What, therefore, is the outcome in such a situation is what the film is about. Unlike the muchpublicised belief that it is a Lolita, it is not. Lolita was sensuous and physical. Far from that, it deals with the dilemma in a rather mature manner.”
Nishabd also has Bachchan singing again, after Ravi Chopra’s Baabul. On the song, Rozana, Bachchan says, “I am not a trained singer. I attempt to listen and feel and then sing it out, for whatever it is worth. And thank the Lord for these beautiful machines and modern technology that automatically put besura notes into sur!”