Going in front of the camera is not an easy task | Amitabh Bachchan - Exclusive Interview

Our interview with actor Amitabh Bachchan was lined up on a rather hot and sunny afternoon. Our venue, a popular suburban hotel, was buzzing with the news of Bachchan's arrival. And once he did, visitors, media persons and tourists could not stop clicking pictures. Amidst all the hullabaloo, Bachchan, with a smile on his face, waved back at every fan and entered the interview area. It was a packed day ahead for the actor, we were told, with back to back interviews for his recently released film, Te3n, which has earned several accolades and tons of appreciation for the legendary actor. But, all the buzz and madness around didn't seem to affect the legend, who battled every question that came his way, mixed with his timeless wit and humour. After exchanging pleasantries and taking the mandatory 'aashirwad' from him, we settled down for a pleasant chat, where Amitabh Bachchan spoke about shooting in Kolkata, being scared of ghosts as a youngster, Saat Hindustani and how he continues to consider himself a struggler. Plus, a few fan questions got answered too. Excerpts from a delightful and heart warming conversation:

What was it about TE3N that attracted you the most?
The people who are making it. I have worked with both Ribhu and Sujoy before. Plus, the opportunity of another job.

You had earlier worked with Ribhu (Dasgupta) on Yudh, which was a television show, and now, you worked together on a film. How different was the experience for the two of you?
Yudh was supposed to be directed by Anurag Kashyap, who had to step out due to a busy schedule. But, he ensured that he will get somebody and Anurag would overlook the project. One of the first things that Anurag told me, when we started working on the show, was to take time to say or do anything, feel what you want to feel and don't be conscious of the cameras around (since there were 2 -3 cameras). Also, sync sound can help you hear everything, right from your own heartbeat to the things around. It also allows you to take time to emote something, which was a benefit. Ribhu continued to do that during the show, and even during Te3n. A lot of it has also got to do with technology. But, making the serial was a lot like shooting for a movie. 

You have always praised Nawazuddin Siddiqui for his talent. How was it sharing screen space with him?
He is just such an exceptional talent. I personally feel that a good co-actor can enhance your work. You maybe the best actor in the world, but if your colleague is not good, then it shows. He reflects your goodness.

You got back to shooting in Kolkata for TE3N, just after Piku in 2015. How was the experience?
In fact, we were supposed to shoot the film in Goa. But, the necessary permissions couldn’t be obtained. During discussions to zero in on the right location, I suggested Kolkata and everyone was fine with the idea. Of course, Kolkata is a special place. I have spent 7-8 years in the city, and got my first job as an executive at a firm. There will obviously be some nostalgic value.

Since the film is shot in real locations, was there any point where the crowds in Kolkata got difficult to handle in between a shot?
Not at all! The crowd in Kolkata is passionate, loving and absolutely wonderful. They are naive and would cheer for you every now and then. But, they are also very considerate and despite being there in large numbers, would never cause any trouble during the shoot. If they know that a shot is going on, they would move away and maintain silence. They know the creative side of film-making very well, so we didn’t face any problem.

There were a few locations used in the film that were touted to be haunted. As a kid, did you believe in haunted areas or ghosts, as such?
Of course, when you are young, you do feel scared. If you are sitting out in the lawn area, it turns dark and suddenly someone goes, “Andar jaakar light jalana,” toh haalat kharab ho jaati this (laughs). You just run and try to get the task done as fast as you can. And then you had people narrating scary ghost stories or saying, “Wahan jaana mat, varna woh aa jayega.” It’s all about the atmosphere created around us.

So, do you try some of these tricks with your grand daughter, Aaradhya?
Oh no, not at all. Now you can’t do any of that, because they are well aware about everything. But yes, if you don’t run their favourite cartoon show, they won’t eat.

Taking you back in time. A lot of your fans wanted to know, how was it working on Saat Hindustani with Khwaja Ahmed Abbas?
Khwaja Ahmed Abbas sahab thought like a common man, and had a very socialistic thinking. All his writings were centred around these thoughts, and the IPTA movement. When he wrote Saat Hindustani, he was very conscious about the secular socialist concept of India. He chose seven Indians because each one of them belonged to a different caste, creed and language. This idea was to show that we are one and we are fighting for a common cause - which is our country. His choice of artists were deliberate, as you had one actor from every background, but the roles given were completely opposite to where they came from. So, you had Utpal Dutt, a Bengali playing a Punjabi, and an Amitabh Bachchan, a Hindu playing a Muslim. For the film, we shot in the forests of Goa during monsoon, traveled third class and slept in Government circuit houses without a bed or electricity. 

After you have been approached and you understand the requirements for your character, is there any rehearsal or a process that you follow before the shoot?
Nothing specific, as such. But, all of us go through various script reading sessions and discussions, to understand the character. Every project requires a different method. Like during Wazir, we had 8-9 script reading sessions with Vidhu Vinod Chopra. We did the same for Te3n and Pink. I think it helps, because it helps you to get familiar with what you and the others around you are doing. So, when you start shooting, you don’t waste time thinking about what your co-star or someone else is doing.

You have seen the evolution of technology in the film industry over a period of four decades. What do you have to say about it?
Back in time, there was no celluloid, no film, which was the most expensive commodity of that time. We could not afford retakes. But now, with everything digital, you can shoot for hours and keep correcting yourself. So, in that respect, it works. We just finished a film called Pink, where we have used digital cameras. Shoojit used 6 -7 cameras at a time for a sequence, which we shot for 15 - 20 minutes nonstop.

Image credit: Daboo Ratnani Photography 2016

Twitter Fan Questions

Ans: Yeah! Why not? If there is a suitable opportunity on television like Yudh that comes my way, I will be very happy to take it up. As for Kaun Banega Crorepati, I still have a contract with them. Somehow, it couldn't work out this year. Let's see how things go. Maybe next year.

Ans: Going in front of the camera is not an easy task. It’s tough. You have sleepless nights, you feel nervous and you don’t know what’s going to happen when the camera starts to roll. As an actor, you question yourself and even the director, to check if you are doing okay. You suddenly wake up in the night and feel, ‘Gosh! I should have enacted that scene in some other way.’ These are some of the things that all of us go through. I mean, I don’t know about the rest, but at least I definitely do.

Ans: I am still struggling. But, what keeps you going is work. Looking for work, what work is gonna come tomorrow, whether I will get it or not. Also, thinking about how I can make myself capable enough to not let that work go.

By Priya Adivarekar

The Dancebee

1 comment:

  1. It was such a treat to read this interview, the way Sir responded to our queries & his simplicity which is so endearing, no matter how hard the day has been, he is always so kind to all.

    Bless Him!


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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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