The law in his hands
It's surprising that in his over 30-year-old film career, Amitabh Bachchan never played a lawyer.
Until now, when in director S Raamanathan's much-delayed film Zamaanat, Bachchan not only plays a lawyer but a blind one at that.
Also starring Arshad Warsi and Karisma Kapoor, it's a rich-girl-poor-boy love story torn apart by circumstances, with Bachchan's character becoming the saviour.
The film has taken about seven years in the making and is finally ready to see the light of day. Interestingly, Bachchan's Bombay to Goa was also directed by Raamanathan.
"Raamanathanji is like family to me. Way back in the '70s when I was staying with Mehmoodbhai, Raamanathanji had come to offer him
Bombay to Goa
"It was a remake of a South film called Madras to Pondicherry. It's then that he offered me the role of the hero though the hero and heroine didn't have much to do. And that's how my acting career took off," Bachchan reminisces.
In a rust silk kurta and beige pants, Bachchan is looking fresh. The signs of his recent illness definitely no longer show on his face as he takes on the media's questions.
He says it certainly pains an actor to know that his film is delayed because of certain circumstances.
"No actor would want to unnecessarily delay or harm his film. Unlike in the past, today films are made relatively faster. Technology and better planning help. For instance, Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna was finished in three months, despite a huge cast, while I am just back from Kerala from shooting for Ram Gopal Varma's Nishabd after 20 days. So if films do get delayed, it's more often than not because of unavoidable circumstances. Zamaanat is finally releasing and we all are happy."
He adds with a smile, "So the age difference in my character which is seen in the film is all natural."
So has he done films for friends and for old times' sake? "Yes, many times though I can't remember which ones."
Coming back to his health, he says he has recuperated completely and is now on to finishing his earlier commitments.
So is his date diary relatively freer post-illness? "Well, I had thought that all my film commitments would be drastically af fected because of my illness but it hasn't really. A schedule of Karan's film was to take off in January but had to be rescheduled to March. But again, his film was always meant to be an August release. There was a major schedule of Ravi Chopra's Babul in December which I couldn't do. But again, there were bigger stars like Hemaji, Rani Mukerji, Salman Khan in the film also and so something or the other came up and the shooting had to go back a bit."
On the status of Kaun Banega Crorepati 2 he says, "Star has given me vague indications about wanting to bring the show back. KBC2 started because of my balance episodes from KBC and now KBC2 has about 24-25 episodes remaining. Let's see what happens. I know as much as you do."
Ask him about his role in Nishabd and he politely declines to talk about it.
Okay, so what does he have to say about Aamir Khan and his stand on the Narmada dam issue? To that too, Bachchan says, "This is not the right place to talk about it. I wouldn't want to comment on it now." (But he does comment on it for a television channel.)
Finally does the media speculation about his illness bother him? "No, they are doing their job. I think any public figure should be prepared to be written about.