I'm having a tough time being an actor: Big B
What! Another AB interview? Well, there are certain questions which still have to be asked about his movies, his new sexy old man image.. and of course, his love-hate relationship with the media.
So Vajir Singh, who had saved his interview session for a rainy day, rowed across the city floods to interview Amitabh Bachchan
If you had been in my place, what question would you have asked Mr Bachchan?
(Unamused) If I'd been in your place, I wouldn't have come here at all. (Pause) In the last few days, I've spoken at length. So if there's any issue you want a clarification on, go ahead.
So, you believe it's important for Mr Bachchan to make clarifications?
For several months, I had this feeling that a lack of communication on my part has led to misunderstandings. Like the claims of a so called family astrologer.
Whose family astrologer?
We don't have one. I checked with Aishwarya's family, they don't have one either. It's been said that whichever house she goes to, she will be a curse.. and this or that person will die. Whatever's written in my kismat.. my destiny will happen.
But why take off on an endless clarification spree?
No no. I'm just being fair. If I talk to one media house, it's only fair that I talk to the others as well. Otherwise, they'll think I'm being partial.
This is the second time after the Bofors controversy that you've talked so extensively.
It's not the second time, it has happened on many occasions.
Do you think there are groups in the film industry?
It's not healthy to believe that. We are all one big family.
And then you forget to invite your film fraternity family to the big marriage.
There were circumstances. My mother is very seriously ill, she's been in a critical state for a year, she can't see, hear, speak or eat, she gets her feed from tubes. But then he's my only son, there has to be a celebration for the momentous day.
The whole day I'm with my mother in grief looking at her condition.. and I've to come home and start singing and dancing because it's my son's wedding. Has anyone ever thought about what an individual goes through in such circumstances?
If this act of ours has disappointed and upset anyone or given anyone cause for annoyance, we are sorry and we are apologetic. I was unable to manage the amount of energy and concern that was happening outside my house.
Maybe we made a few mistakes. But when you're in a state of alarm, you make mistakes. Our intention was to accommodate the media but yes, maybe we slipped up on this point. And we apologise for this.
Do you mean to say, there was some plan to accommodate the media?
Yes, of course. There were plans to come and meet the press outside. But several pirated photos went out from some of the guests who took photographs on their mobile phones.
Shouldn't Abhishek Bachchan come forward and speak on these issues?
Abhishek has never shied away from the fact.. it's just that he has never had that opportunity. He has been travelling, before and soon after the wedding. As time passes, they'll talk to the media. There's no problem.
On the professional front, you seem to be repeating yourself with the same kind of character – the sexy old man.
I'm 65. I don't play leading man anymore. If I were to only play the patriarch of the family, it would have become monotonous. There has been a lot of criticism of the kind of roles I have chosen. Maybe, the criticism is justified. Maybe they don't want me to play a ‘negative' kind of role which they feel doesn't suit me morally. I accept that criticism.
I look at roles as an actor who has been given an opportunity to play a different character. Why should it be said, Amitabh Bachchan can't do this? Or why is he doing that? But if there's a strong objection to my roles, I should be careful in the future.
Wouldn't you agree that the audience wouldn't like to see their ideal Jai playing Gabbar Singh?
Right. I take that point. But I also want audiences to look at me as an artiste. I'm at a point where I'm playing a patriot, a negative character, sometimes an angry old man.. sometimes a dirty old man. These are some of the aspects of creativity. However, if my fans are getting disappointed, I need to be careful.
How different will your Gabbar Singh be?
I haven't had a brief from Ram Gopal Varma whether I should talk about it. But yes, his interpretation of Gabbar is different.. his language, his name, his talk.
News is that you are reviving AB Corp with a public issue.
We were in red for a very long time, I was advised to close down the company. I worked.. we all worked and paid back every single penny. I felt that the company bears my father's name. We would not put a full stop to it. We feel that our capabilities of doing (film) production on our own are limited. That's the mistake we made earlier. We intend to do co-productions and joint ventures. There are projects like endorsements, television, movies, a concert tour.
So what about the public issue?
We haven't taken a call. I can't say anything at this point of time.
Lastly, how do you want me to end this interview?
(Amused) I don't know. I'm not a journalist. I'm having a tough time being an actor.