Abhishek Bachchan has recently had an accident and suffered a ‘slipped disc’. He has been resting for quite some time now before he took time out to promote his latest film, Housefull 3. He spoke to us over three cups of black coffee…
How has your back been?
It’s hundred percent better and I am back to work.
Tell us about Housefull 3…
You know what to expect. You don’t need to tell the audience about the film. It’s a very funny script and the minute I heard it, I said yes. It’s the same format. Askhay plays a footballer, Riteish is a race car driver and I am a rapper in the film. We fall in love with three girls and we go to their house and try to impress their father. There we pretend… Akshay pretends to be lame, Riteish pretends to be blind and I am on mute.
The three girls in the film Nargis Fakhri, Jacqueline Fernandes and Lisa Haydon don’t speak in Hindi. So how was it working with them?
Nargis is a friend. All the three girls in the film have been chosen because they are not fluent in Hindi. In the film too they can’t speak Hindi and they have grown up in the U.K. We wanted them to have a thick accent. They do literal translation from English to Hindi. They didn’t have to put it on (the accent). They are integral part of the film and they are the anchors. The boys come in the house because of them.
Did you find comedy difficult?
Comedy is the most difficult genre because you rely entirely on what is written. In comedy, if the timing is not good it can fall flat.
How is the camaraderie on the sets when you do a film like this?
If the camaraderie is good off-screen then it translates on-screen. Nobody is such a great actor that he can come and shoot immediately. We don’t usually meet and spend time together. But when you are doing a light hearted film like this one, you tend to sit and pass time and joke around. It helps.
Which actress do you think is one of the most outstanding comedian on Hindi screen?
Sridevi was one of the most outstanding actress in comedy but maybe other actresses didn’t choose to do such comedy.
Would you like to do any sequel to your father’s films and who do you think can play the role well?
I don’t see who else can do it but me. But I don’t think I will do any sequel to his films. If I do it, you people (the media) will say that I am not as good.
How has your relationship with your dad changed over the years?
He has always treated me as a friend and that has not changed till date. My mom was strict and used to scold us and she would spank us but after a while we were out of reach. She was always the enforcer but dad allowed us to do what we want.
You have not been doing too many films these days. Is it a conscious decision?
During Dad’s times, actors did 30 to 50 films at a time. Shashi Kapoor has record of shooting for 11 films in a day. In the 90’s, actors did 50 to 20 and then we came. These films took three to five years to release. Why did it take so long in those days? Because they would shoot and edit and they would call distributors to watch the film because they funded the film. Now the system has changed because funding has come into the place. We get funding at one go these days and we can finish one film at a time. Now we complete films in six months with four months of prep and two months of post production. For Housefull we shot during end of August and end of October. We shot for an entire month in England. After we came back, we did a little bit of editing and then we shot for two more days. That’s all, the shoot was over. The process has become more concise and a more efficient system.
Do you feel Indian cinema is being recognised on a global platform now?
Indian cinema is unique, where as European and Hollywood cinema are similar. There is no film industry in the world that works the way we work. Audience count is one point two to one point three billion. We are exhibiting our films on a world platform. Our films are being watched in North America as we have expatriates there. People in Peru, Europe, Africa, Asia, Far East Australia love our films. We are global.
Did Aishwarya discuss her Cannes experience with you?
She was very touched with the response they gave for their film Sarbjit. They got a standing ovation. In Cannes it means a lot when you get a standing ovation. If they don’t like they boo it.
What about the purple lipstick for which she was trolled?
I thought she looked super cool, I loved her in that look.
Don’t you feel that a lot of importance is given to the glamour on the red carpet than the films that are showcased there?
The media gives the glamour and clothes all the importance. Every film function has a red carpet but otherwise Cannes is a serious film festival. You see the glamorous side of it as you see the photographs that are published. But it’s a world market and is a very prestigious film festival.
Your father has won the National award for the third time, how do you feel about it?
I feel proud and feel good as he is my father. This is the third time. He won the National award for the first time for Black and second time we both got for Pa and third time it was Piku. These are special moments in life. We were all there but Aradhya was not allowed as children under five are not allowed there.
We heard you have treasured all the hand written letters he has written for you?
Yes, I have kept them in my safe. What would you normally keep in a safe, some money or your jewellery. But I have treasured my photographs because if they are lost all those great memories will never come back. They are very special to me. I have pictures of my childhood, my marriage, to the birth of my daughter. I have treasured my father’s letters which he has been writing for me since childhood. I have my Dadaji’s letters. My father used to write letters to me in school and I read them now I feel they have so much wisdom. My dad has letters from Dadaji when he was in school in Nainital. My dadaji would write letters to us. I have got those registers too.
Have you adapted the habit of writing letters to your daughter?
I write letters to Aaradhya. She is too young to understand and read them but when she grows up she will read them and enjoy them.
Does she react to your films on screen now?
She hasn’t seen our films. She saw a song from Kuch Na Kaho she looked at us in surprise and was wondering how we were on TV. When she saw Dadaji she was very excited. But she feels excited when she sees us on hoardings and movies.
We heard you are doing Hera Pheri with Akshay Kumar again? How has your rapport been with him?
I am not doing Hera Pheri anymore. Akshay and I worked together in a film titled Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya Hai, however we didn’t interact much as we had just two scenes. in 1994 he was doing Angaarey which was my best friend Goldie Behl’s film and he was a huge star I would come from boarding school during holidays and would go on the sets and watch him enact his scenes. He loves me from then.
What films are you looking forward to as a producer?
We are looking for the right scripts. We are producing one PINK and dad has finished shooting for it. It’s a wonderful film.
As a producer what is it that you look for in a film?
The script. If it appeals to me I take it up. I remember that Balki narrated the story of Paa to me in such a way that I was forced to say yes to the film.
What did he say?
He came and told me, “You are playing your fathers father and he’s playing your son”. I said, “We will do the film”. A good script appeals to you instantly.