'It is my duty to give them what they want, because we are employees of the public who pay our salaries; I do not believe in art and parallel cinema. I believe in only good and bad cinema', opines Abhishek Bachchan in a frank conversation with Jyothi Venkatesh.
Going by the trailers of 'Happy New Year', there are scenes where you have aped your dad to the T in drunken sequences as well the way you talk in tapori style English!
Name me one actor who has not been inspired by Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Why pick on me just because I happen to be his son? There was no reference point to the character of Nandu Bhende, the character that I play in the film.
What kind of home work did you do get into the skin of your character?
To create the character was the toughest task. As an actor you bring a lot to your character but to do a character which is not at all like you is difficult. Shah Rukh Khan told me to unlearn my way of speaking English first of all because I had to get into the skin of Nandu Bhende, who always talks wrong English.
Describe what kind of a film 'Happy New Year' is!
'Happy New Year is an out and out entertaining film I wanted to be a part of. It is about six people and a diamond robbery. Never has a film been made with heist genre and the dance genre. A band of boys, a motley crowd has come to rob by joining a dance show.
How was it working with Farah Khan?
It is for the first time that I have acted under her direction. What I like about her is that she is so organised, so prepared. Every time you ask her a question, she has a ready answer. She is not a filmmaker who wants to discover herself while she is making, as she knows what she is making, does her home work long before coming to the sets. For her it is a process. Filmmaking is a collaborative proves which starts a year before you start filming. Farah had spent a year on my character. She was very inclusive. I had the liberty apart from my inter-personal relationship with her, which is very informal. She encouraged me and we had worked even before the film started.
Farah Khan isn’t the first woman director with whom you have worked!
I did 'Phir Milenge' for Revathy in 2004. It was originally an emotional approach. In any case, men are programmed to approach in a different way because men and women’s points’ of view are different. Cinema which Farah believes lends itself to all. She is proud of the fact that she is commercial masala director. Today the film-going audience accepts different kind of subjects. When new age cinema is being celebrated it is absolutely fantastic that she comes up hard core masala films.
How would you differentiate between art and commercial cinema?
I do not believe in art and parallel cinema. I believe in only good and bad cinema. We work in a commercial medium and if there is no press show you will have to buy a ticket to see a film. Why is there such bad blood when a film does not do well? If you like a film you will like to go back and see. It is my duty to justify you spending your hard earned money. We should not be arrogant to think that we know better than the audience. I am a child of the film industry. I know how much it hurts when a film does not do well. We are public employees. We work for the public who pay our salaries. It is my duty to give them what they want.
'Happy New Year' is an out and out entertainer but does it not also convey a message?
Everyone in life gets a second chance but it is up to you to avail of it. Make something of it when you get a second chance is the subtle message that it sets out to convey.
Why are you seen in very few films these days? After 'Dhoom 3' last year, 'Happy New Year' is your next.
I need to be inspired to do some film. If I have to play a dead body, if it interests me I will be ready to do it. Why is the media hell bent on bracketing actors? 'All is Well' and 'Houseful 3' are my next films, after 'Happy New Year'. I play varied roles in them. I can do work in ten films a year or one film in ten years.
You do not seem to be part of solo films like 'Guru' any more. 'Dhoom 3' was a multi-starrer. So is 'Happy New Year'. At any stage did you feel insecure working with a lot of actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Boman Irani, Sonu Sood etc in 'Happy New Year'?
Do I look insecure from any angle? You have known me from ages. Was 'Guru' a solo film? Were Mithunda and Madhavan, Aishwarya and Vidya Balan not actors? They were not supporting actors. 'Dhoom 3' was a film of three actors- Aamir Khan, Uday Chopra and I. Weren’t Prachi, Asrani and Krishna Abhishek actors of 'Bol Bachchan besides Ajay and me?
What I mean is that at one time you were part of solo films like 'Run', 'Bluff Master' and 'Dum Maaro Dum'!
It will be a very terribly arrogant statement for any actor to make, if he claims to be a part of a solo film. Duttsaab‘s film 'Yaadein' was the only solo film in Hindi. If ever I win an award I thank the crew because filmmaking is a collaborative work. For me to do my job well, I need 30 other departments to help me. Even a junior artiste doing a passing shot is for me, an actor. I do not want to walk away with all the accolades alone when I do a film.
You are also a producer in your own right after 'Paa'!
Yes. I am producing 'Shamitabh' with R. Balki as the director. I confess I hate producing films because the producer in me comes in the way when I set out to act. I’d like to produce a film without acting in it. I am now enjoying the process of producing 'Shamitabh' because I am not acting in it. It stars my dad, Dhanush and Akshara. It is a beautiful subject. Being Balki he will come up with interesting subjects. ABC Corps has thrown its doors open to him. It was he who made me a producer. I wouldn’t say that I produced a film with him.
How would you describe Shah Rukh Khan as a producer?
Shah Rukh is the best producer I have ever acted with till date. I had acted in 'Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna', but it was not a major role at all. I’d say that he has been the best producer for me. Tongue in cheek, I can also possibly say that he can also be the worst producer for a producer because he never says no. He said he wanted to make India’s first biggest looking film scale wise.