Abhishek in the CT hot seat

In town for the premiere of his latest film, Delhi 6, the junior Bachchan spent his morning as Guest Editor of City Times and as he took charge of the proceedings we put him in the hot seat

By Davina Raisinghani (citytime@emirates.net.ae)

Published: Thu 19 Feb 2009, 9:43 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:27 PM

A few years ago, a rather gutsy journalist asked Abhishek Bachchan, “how does it feel to be a flop actor?” And how did the younger Bachchan feel about this exceptionally rude query? “Well, it really put things into perspective,” jests the now successful celebrity.

Editor living it large: Our Guest Editor travels to work in styleBut, in retrospect, it has indeed been a long and noteworthy journey for the son of India’s biggest superstar. He has had to suffer through constant comparisons, and the burden of falling understandably short (his father has more than four decades of experience to his credit, where as Abhishek was nothing more than a neophyte at the time).

Today, the star kid has carved a name for himself. He’s no longer known as the son of a illustrious father (or the husband of an eminent wife). Instead he’s referred to as an immensely gifted and versatile actor who has charmed cinema lovers across the world with his performances.

Why is Delhi 6 special to you?

Delhi 6 is about how India Shining and poverty-ridden India coexist. There’ll be a lot of times when you’re laughing while watching the film. But it’s done in such a way that it’ll only hit you slightly later what was being said. It’s an entertaining film, but one that people will want to discuss. I love Indian cinema; I love what we stand for: our song, dance, celebration and melodrama. It’s one of the reasons I’m an actor. But once in a while you come across a film which you really feel you need to stand by because it says something important. Now I’ve made it sound like the world’s most serious and boring film.

You mentioned at a press conference that the ensemble cast of the film was a dream come true.

Abhishek Bachchan hard at work. His first order Abhishek checks the layout forapproval of business was to isssue a warning that he was now in a position to fire us and no mistakes would be tolerated.I call the cast Rakeysh put together ‘The Dream Team’. We actors spend almost an entire career wanting to work with these people, and I’ve got to work with so many of them in one film. I know actors who’d give an arm and a leg to work with Waheeda Rehman and Rishi Kapoor. I got both of them in the same film. It was very challenging because even though my character is the protagonist he’s more like an observer. Actually I’ve spoken the least in this film than in my entire career. Rakeysh makes fun of me and says, “you are the only hero who’s expected to do a role where you have eleven lines.”

What sort of reactions has Delhi 6 gotten so far?

I was in New York the day before yesterday and we had a screening with an hour-long question and answer session after and it was amazing. A lot of people came out with greatest regard and respect for Roshan. In my first scene with Chittu Uncle (Rishi Kapoor) and Rakeysh had to remind me to say my dialogues. Growing up I was his biggest fan. And for me if there was anybody after dad it was him.

Tell us what you’re working on now?

I’m shooting a film with Mani Ratnam which I’ve taken a break from to promote this film. Aishwarya’s in it. It’s a love triangle. After I’m finished with that I’m starting a film called Pa with my Dad. It is directed by R. Balki (who made Cheeni Kum). Then there’s a crime-thriller with a new director called Abhinay Deol.

So what’s it like working with Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan now that you’re married to her?

Abhishek checks the layout for approvalIt’s exactly the way it was before we got married. Once you’re in front of the camera you’re a professional. It would be incorrect to behave any other way. The perk of working with your wife is that once the camera switches off you’ve got your wife there. We get to spend a lot of time together, which we don’t otherwise.

Do you think Indian scripts are getting better?

Earlier we had scripts where: boy meets girl, they fall in love, we have five songs, and the interval point is when the father of the girl says no, after the interval the boy is trying to convince everybody with another five songs and in the climax beats up everybody and wins over the girl. What do you expect the writer to do? But now it’s wonderful that you have a film like Chandni Chowk to China releasing at the same time as a Dev D. totally different films. You have the license to officially be schizophrenic by doing something new everyday so why not milk that for what its worth.

You’ve created a lot of trends (the trademark stubble for example). What do you think about that?

I think it’s cool if you’re given credit for something like that. The only thing I’m embarrassed about starting was wearing a hair band. I really apologise to all you guys out there for that. I was doing Drona and had to grow my hair out. So one morning I took my niece’s hairband and wore it to keep the hair off my face. I think it looked terrible. I don’t know why people took it as a fashion statement. It was really embarrassing. But the beard is nice. It’s nice that in a day and age where more men are waxing their chest than women, to have some hair on the chest and the face. I hope the masculine man is back. This metrosexual man I don’t understand. Guys shouldn’t get a manicure. It’s not a manly thing to do.

Your father campaigned for years against the use of the word ‘Bollywood’. Do you feel the same?

I’ll tell you why we have an aversion to the word, because nobody really knows the origin of the word. The word was coined by a very senior journalist back home writing about the Indian film industry in a very derogatory manner. We’re the largest film industry in the world; we make the maximum number of films in a year and we sell the maximum number of tickets world wide. Unfortunately it’s in the Oxford dictionary today and it’s going to take us a lot of time to get rid of it.

What do you think of Slumdog Millionaire?

I think it is a fantastic film. I don’t understand this whole controversy that’s going on. It’s a film; nobody is trying to comment on India. And it’s not an Indian film; it’s an English film produced by a Hollywood studio and directed by a British director. If it was produced and directed by an Indian it woul

Quick quips

· “I drive a Bentley GT around the streets in India. I have a Murcielago but that’s not built for the roads back home. It’s too low and doesn’t turn quick enough. It’s hard to keep under 100 mph too!”

· “Sports cars have to be Italian. I also love Italian bikes.”

· “I love riding bikes. I ordered a Chopper once but had to cancel it. I like riding at night and my mum said if I rode this bike she would leave home.”

· “I’m glad Scolari’s gone. We have to do something because we have dropped off. I was at Old Trafford for the first time when Chelsea played there this season. It was terrible.”

· “I only really watch cricket when India is playing. Then it’s really exciting.”

· “I hate shopping. I don’t buy my own clothes. My mum buys my clothes and so does my wife and sister.”

Journey within

Director’s Note- “Delhi- 6 is a journey...a journey within. We are all living in difficult times, Delhi- 6 urges us to look within and if there is an answer then it is love because that’s the law of nature and its creation.”

Autism Centre

After a lengthy visit to the Khaleej Times offices to guest edit the day’s City Times edition, Abhishek made an impromptu visit to the Dubai Autism Centre. “Dad visited the centre two years back,” Abhishek told us. “He was so affected and moved by the place, he spoke about it a lot. He even dedicated an award to it. With this visit I have an opportunity to see what he was talking about. It’s amazing that just meeting children can make a difference and the opportunity to put a smile on their faces is just wonderful.”

Short takes

What is the first thought in your head when you wake up?

Not again.

And what do you think when you wake up in the morning next to the most beautiful woman in the world?

I think, ‘oh, you look like that in the morning as well?’

Who was your first love?

Zeenat Aman.

So, is it true that you had a crush on Priyanka Chopra as you mentioned on Koffee with Karan?

That was my second time on Karan’s show. And they did this poll which I thought was very rude. She lost, so I felt really bad. Priyanka’s a good friend. That was my way of cheering her up.

Anything you didn’t learn from your parents?

I learnt how to cycle and cook by myself. But I am what I am today because of my parents.

Has Drona turned you off fantasy films?

No, I think a good film works and a bad film doesn’t. that shouldn’t scare you off from a particular genre.

Which film do you think will win the Oscar this year?

I liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I also think Mickey Rourke was fantastic in The Wrestler.

Favourite animated film?

Finding Nemo. It was a complete Hindi film. The son gets lost in the kumbh ka mela and father goes out to look for him.

Did you ever imitate you Dad at home?

No, my sister does; she’s the actor. She really missed her calling.

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