It’s not rare to hear of stars doing their own stunts, but it’s not everyday that you hear of an actor risking his life for a bit of on-screen daredevilry even when the director and the insurance company advise him against it. Abhishek Bachchan jumped off a cliff, plunging down 90 feet, straight into a river for a scene in Mani Ratnam’s Raavan.
Bachchan admits that Ratnam was dead against him doing the stunt because the current was too strong and a 90-foot dive was very risky for an actor. “But there were four-five local boys around who would jump off the cliff for money. I pointed out to Mani that if they could do it, so could I, given that there was a professional diver to train me,” explains Bachchan. He finally had his way and says that when he was airborne, the only thought on his mind was, “Oh my God, I’m going to die!” He adds that Ratnam was furious and told him to leave such stunts to trained professionals.
The actor says that Raavan is the most challenging film he’s ever done. “It wasn’t just about going to a difficult location or doing difficult scenes. Though I was drained, there was the satisfaction of doing good work,” he asserts. Bachchan says that this is the most fun character he’s played. “Veera is unpredictable and Mani told me that if I was convinced about something, I was free to weave it into my portrayal,” he says.
Confirming that Ratnam was keen that Bachchan play Dev (Vikram’s role in the Hindi version of Raavan) in the Tamil version, the actor says, “Yes, Mani was adamant that I do it but I’m not comfortable with Tamil and he understood.” He is also all praise for his director. “Once you work with him, you are in awe because of the challenge he brings to the table. You don’t have to work too hard when in front of the camera because he naturally inspires you to give your best,” says Bachchan.