In a 'tell it all' conversation with Abhishek Bachchan
As someone who comes across as defensive and guarded in most interviews, someone who might snub you if questioned about his failures, someone who gets slightly ruffled with constant criticism…. Abhishek Bachchan did move away from his usual self as he settled for a rather long and candid chat with us during his visit to the city for the promotions of this Friday’s release Dum Maro Dum.
A shaky debut followed by a string of flops, Abhishek emerged as an actor and found his due recognition with films like Yuva, Dhoom and Phir Milenge after a long struggle of three years. But this success was shortlived too as his career dipped again with box-office disasters, his last film Game being a clear miss as well. With a graph that has seen more lows than highs, how confident does he feel now to carry off a film? DMD’s release being just around the corner, is he positive of being accepted this time? “An actor’s fortune is decided every Friday and that’s his destiny. Some films do well, some don’t but that doesn’t stop you from doing what you believe in. Also, disappointment does set in initially when something doesn’t work but once it does, your belief is reinstated and that basic belief helps you to pull through difficult times,” he states.
More the merrier
He sure has had more misses than hits but that definitely hasn’t dampened the actor’s spirit to do more work. In fact, as opposed to his contemporaries Hrithik Roshan Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, who believe in giving their heart and soul to one film a year, Abhishek is seen doing as much as four films. And most being substantially large scale, which have failed to impress after creating immense expectations (Drona, Raavan and Khelen Hum Jee Jaan Se). Has he ever felt that prolificness has perhaps prevented him from doing justice to some potential roles, which he could have if he had taken more time to prepare for them?
“Why would I do a film if I am not prepared for it?” he questions agitatedly. “I work on every film taking it to be my first and last. I don’t take anything for granted. But yes, I am impatient as a person and want to do as many films as I can. I can’t see myself doing one film a year even though I know I would probably reach that stage one day. Besides, I like doing films that inspire me,” he adds.
The rage with Raavan
|With wife Aishwarya in Raavan|
So in hindsight, what went wrong with Raavan, a film that was touted as the biggest of his career? “What has upset you with Raavan? You know I can give you all that jargon about the figures it has grossed, etc, which will make it clear that it was not a failure but the media has just gone on and on about it,” he flares up.
Calming down just as rapidly, he continues, “After a year, when you sit and analyse what went right and wrong with a film, there are a hundred reasons you can come up with but my point is cinema is beyond analysis. We are not meant to think, just feel. It’s not viewing but experiencing. I have this weird theory related to films wherein I believe that it’s all a part of submission from a viewer to an escapist world. A film is an experience which is supposed to make you oblivious to everything and everyone around you. It has to grip you and emotionally connect you with the world it creates. When a film doesn’t work, it didn’t touch you, it’s as simple as that. Most of the times, you and me don’t understand what we have liked or disliked about a film and cannot explain in words but you still have to go ahead and write a review as it’s your job. And in the process you end up writing something that you haven’t really understood.”
Coming back to Raavan, he elucidates, “One of the major reasons was that people couldn’t relate to the central character and I have discussed this with Mani (Ratnam) as well. Why does Beera kidnap this woman, why is he fascinated with her, why does he behave in a way he does…? His motives and intentions are never clear from the beginning. The whole story comes through in the last 20 minutes through the flashback and by then it’s too late as the audience has already switched off to the film.”
Will work only with friends
With DMD, Abhishek is back to working with good friend Rohan Sippy after the master-blaster Bluffmaster. Ask him why he only prefers to work with known banners and friends and he promptly replies, “I have always worked with friends and I will always only work with friends because I need to have a certain comfort level with people I am working with no matter how cold-hearted and commercial the industry is. So even if I am offered a good film by someone I don’t know, I will first make sure that I spend six to seven months getting to know him and become comfortable and friendly. Having said that, everyone in the industry is my friend. I am born here.”
But does friendship often take over the script where he gets carried away and does a film just for the sake of friendship? “Not at all. I don’t do anyone favours and vice versa. Nobody comes to me with a film because I am Amitabh Bachchan’s son or because I am their friend. They come to me because they feel I will suit the role and I choose to do it on that basis too. It’s all on a professional level and there are no compromises,” he clarifies.
What's the fuss over Agneepath remake?
The buzz surrounding Karan Johar’s remake of Agneepath and Hrithik Roshan playing his father’s iconic character in the same doesn’t seem to die and so do the reports of him being upset with KJo for not considering him for the role. Is it true? “Karan is like family and I can’t be upset with him. I was never approached for this film and I could have never played this role either,” he says clearly. He denies any remake of Abhimaan being in the pipeline too for which he and wife Aishwarya Rai were supposed to come together.
As far as the fate of DMD is concerned, Abhishek says he has a firm faith on the audience. “They have the ability to see a film beyond the previous track record of an actor, whether the lead pair is a couple offscreen, etc. If the film is gripping, they don’t care about anything else,” he says. With passion for cinema echoing in his voice, Abhishek leaves us with a feeling that films are certainly the centre of his universe.
And it is this feeling that makes us hope that Dum Maro Dum silences all the critics of this underrated yet terrific actor once and for all.