Abhishek competing with Aishwarya?
“My father turned to me, patted me on the back, and said, ‘Well done.’ Then he added, ‘But Aishwarya is better than you,”’ Abhishek says with a smile when asked what was the best compliment he has received since the promos went on air.
He insists that he never tries to compete with his wife. “She’s one of the best actors we have in the industry and her work speaks for itself. I don’t need to compete with her or anybody else. My only competition is I, me, myself,” he asserts. “If I haven’t improved on my last performance, then I don't deserve to be an actor.”
Quiz him on his apprehensions of playing a negative character and Abhishek dismisses the thought: “As an actor I’ve never paused to ask myself if this role was good for my image or my career. I’m sorry for any actor who thinks that way.”
‘I would have played a tree’
He points out that when a director of the calibre of Mani Ratnam asks an actor to do a film, he can’t say ‘No’. “He’s the best filmmaker we have and you’d be a fool to refuse him. Even if he wanted me to be a tree in the backdrop, I’d do it because he’s a friend,” says Abhishek.
He goes on to say that he has always approached his career on an emotional level and has never been good at strategising. “I do what my heart tells me to do. If my heart is not in the job, I will never be able to be completely honest,” he points out. “Hey, half the time I don’t even think that it’s my wife I’ve been paired with! It doesn’t matter because on the sets I’m not Abhishek but the character I play. Sarkar Raj was our first film together after marriage, and it didn’t even have a romantic angle.”
He’s quick to negate the impression that doing a film together is like going away on a holiday. “It’s not,” he reiterates, “The director, his script and the characters we play come first rather than who’s opposite you.”
'Even today people call me Gurubhai'
At the music launch, Abhishek said that Mani Ratnam was re-launching him again. His career took a turn for the better after Yuva. Ditto Guru. And now he’s hoping Raavan can turn his fortunes again.
“You are remembered by the work you do. I’m lucky to have a director like Mani. The films I've done with him will always be remembered,” asserts Abhishek. “I walk down the road and even today people still call me Gurubhai, though nowadays it’s what an idea sirji. Mani gave me Lalaan Singh (Yuva) when no one was giving me work. Now he’s given me Beera. I hope he’s thinking of me for his next film too. Mani, I have the dates too.”
‘I’d like to exhibit my mean side more often’
Yes, Beera looks really mean. That is a side to me that I’d like to exhibit more often in real life but good behaviour doesn’t allow it. It’s only when you do a film with Mani Ratnam that he’ll make sure you to do all that and more.
I’m changing the marketing strategy of the industry. To date, we’ve promoted a film