Bollywood

One-on-one with Amitabh Bachchan: I haven’t heard about Snapchat yet.

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First of all, a
very Happy New Year to you! What resolutions have you made for the New Year?

Happy New Year to you too! Why should I make a
resolution? I don’t believe in resolutions. If I want to do something, I will
do it now. Why wait for the future?

Mr Vidhu Vinod
Chopra wanted to make this film long back in English…

Yes. It was called Chess Player and he had narrated this idea to me 15 years ago. He wanted to make it in English but for some reason it
didn’t get made and now he got this project together and we did it.

If at all he
decides to make it in English, would you agree to be part of it?

Back then I would have been a part of it but I don’t
think he wants to make it in English any more.

What is Wazir all
about?

Well it’s about two characters; one if Danish Ali, an ATS
officer played by Farhan Akhtar and the other is Omkarnath Dhar who is a Kashmiri
Pandit living in Delhi. They both are two different individuals but they have
one commonality among them which is that they are individuals in their own
respect. How they discover that their issues and problems are similar and how
they both combine through a certain process of a story to overcome those issues,
problems, that goal is what Wazir is all about. What that goal is, is something
you will know once you watch the film. It’s a very intelligently made film.
It’s very slick, very modern and these are Jaya’s words, not mine. She recently
saw the film and this is what she felt about it. She is the most difficult
person to please after you have shown her one of your products. But she has
liked the film. After you all have seen the film, we all should meet again and
discuss because it’s worth another meeting. It would be interesting to see what
you thought about it and how we went about it and why we went about it in a
particular manner. I am hoping you will have various questions after watching
the film. I hope we get another opportunity to meet because I would be able to
talk about it.

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How did you slip
in your character in Wazir?

When someone narrates an idea, a story, a character; you
just do what is required of you. I was asked to sit on a wheelchair and move
around, that’s it.

What kind of
preparation did you do because the role is challenging in its own way.

Well other than the fact that I am moving around on a
wheel chair in the entire film, there weren’t any challenges really. Most
actors look for wonderful properties to be able to assist them in their
performances and the chair was a wonderful prop. It’s wonderful that you can
use that prop as a part of your act and character.

How is Bejoy
Nambiar as a director to work with? This is your first film with him. He is
young and he comes from a contemporary school of filmmaking.

He is young, very modern and very well equipped. He has
already done two films and he has assisted Mani Ratnam. These are all his
credentials. You move with time, with technology, thought process of a young
filmmaker and it’s wonderful to live in their atmosphere. It’s always something
new for me and I enjoy doing that. Working with him has been a great joy.

How much of a
chess player are you in real life?

I used to play earlier but now I don’t. I have forgotten
the game, but during the course of the film, we had to learn a few moves.

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In a press
conference, Farhan said that you both bonded over your yesteryear film Deewar.
Could you share some anecdotes? You have earlier worked with Farhan as a
director and now as an actor.

Yeah. His dad was one of the writers of the film. Javed
Saab and I have been together for so many years and we have done so many
projects together.  Also Farhan is a
director’s actor. When he is directing, he is a director and when he is acting,
he is an actor. He doesn’t mix them. There are very few people who are able to
do that. He is also a producer, a musician, a singer and a writer.

Your last few
films have been drastically different from each other. Which of these roles was
more demanding?

Every role that comes to us is demanding. To say a
particular character is less demanding is not correct; at least for me as an
actor. We put in effort to portray every character in equal amount. At my age,
there are different kinds of characters you get unlike early years when I was
playing the leading man. At best, you fought the villain and you got the girl
in the end. That was our life in every film. But today we get various shades of
different characters. You get to play a young 13-year-old kid, or a guy who is
on a wheelchair throughout the film, you get to play a mad guy like Shamitabh.
These are not leading men but the roles are very character oriented.

After Piku, you
are shooting for your next film Teen in Kolkata. Tell us something about it.

I started my career in Kolkata. My first job was in
Kolkata. I had spent eight years there and it was very nostalgic. Teen is one
of the many films I have shot there and it’s always a joy to be there. The
people of Kolkata are just wonderful and excellent examples of true passion;
how they encourage the people is unbelievable. They have so much passion for
whatever they like, whether its films or football or cricket. They lift you up
with their passion and their love.

Nawazuddin
Siddiqui is a great admirer of your work and he has come a long way after a lot
of struggle. He is one of the best actors around. How was it working with him?

Firstly, it’s the other way round; I am a big admirer of
his work. He had a very miniscule role, almost a passing shot in a film that
Shoojit and I were doing called Shoebite. I was so astonished with his talent
that I asked Shoojit where he got him from. I asked Shoojit to give him a
bigger role and not waste him in smaller roles. Look how wonderfully he has
reached here and now I am working with him in Teen and it’s a great honour for
me.

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Is it any
different to work with actors who have been great fans and huge admirers of
your work? Does it get awkward or amusing?

No, not really. Actually, this whole concept is wrong. If
we are professionals, we go about doing our job professionally. Personal
relationships don’t come in the picture. On screen, if I have to slap somebody
I may be a great admirer of, I will do it. That’s what acting is all about. We
are actors and we enjoy that. I am happy that I got to work with an exceptional
talent like Nawaz because you learn something new from every new talented actor
you work with.

 For this
generation of actors, to receive a letter of appreciation from you is a
barometer of success. What is the barometer of success for you?

I don’t know if it’s a barometer of success for them. The
new generation of actors is exceptionally talented and I like them all. They
are all wonderful actors. Everytime I see their work, I cannot resist myself
from writing to them and telling them how much I enjoyed their work. I am happy
they express themselves in the way they have to. This exercise of writing a
letter or sending an sms after liking their work happens more often. These
mediums were not available earlier but there were many people who would meet me
and appreciate me for my work and there were times when we would exchange
flowers or something. But I feel like writing to them so I do that. I have
always been a great admirer of Dilip Sahab and I have a letter from him which I
will always cherish.

What do you think
about the new panel at the CBFC that has been set up by the government?

Well there will be rules and we will have to follow them.
They all work according to certain stipulations that are set by the government
of India. If the government feels this is what needs to be allowed and this is
what needs to be edited out, the board follows it. If you disagree with it,
there are various mediums where you can fight your case. There have been many
such examples in the past. It’s like the legal system or income tax system. The
assessing officer will assess your income. If you don’t agree with it, you can
go to the commissioner. If you don’t agree with that, you can go to the
tribunal. If you don’t agree with that, you can go to the high court. If you
don’t agree with that, you can go to the Supreme Court. Similarly, if there are
rules and regulations set by the government, in a democratic society and
constitution such as ours, every individual has the opportunity to challenge
any kind of dictat that might have come across, provided it is accepted
legally.

Your connect with
your EF on Twitter and Facebook have been awe inspiring for many people. What
amazes everyone is that how do you manage to take out time to connect with them
despite such a busy schedule?

It’s simple. I finish my work and I start writing to
them. I will finish this interview and I will write to them.

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Any plans of
making a debut on Snapchat. Many of your young fans are waiting for you to
come on board.

Well I haven’t heard of it yet. This is the first time I
am hearing of Snapchat. Let me see. When somebody brings something to me and
if it excites me and I feel it’s worth doing then I do it.

There were reports
that you were offered Dhoom 4. Are you going to be a part of it?

I am hearing it for the first time from you. I haven’t
really heard or read about it. 

And what about Robot
2?

Well Shankar, the director of Robot had come to me during
the first part and he wanted me to play the villain. So I called Rajini who
said, “Sir, people will not accept you as villain.” So I said okay and didn’t
do the film.

How has your
equation been with Sanjay Leela Bhansali?

I call him a genius every time I see one of his films.
It’s absolutely astonishing how he makes these films and he has a vision which
is unbelievable. Every frame of his is a painting. I enjoy his work too much.
Right from his first film Khamoshi to Bajirao Mastani, he has given exceptional
cinema to the industry.

Is it true that
you will be doing Aankhen 2?

Yes, I am doing Aankhen 2 which will start in March and I
play the same character.

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