Abhishek Bachchan is one of Bollywood’s most interesting stars. He is born to super famous parents, has a superstar for a wife and is a huge star himself, and yet it seems like Abhishek is very much finding his own way in the turbulent world of Hindi cinema, where you are as good as your last hit. He seems to be creating a space or himself where hits, flops or the much lauded and desired Image doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the Performance. As he sits with Koel Purie to record his interview for her show “ON THE COUCH WITH KOEL”, he answers the questions listed below and has the honor of becoming the first guest for what will be a series of collaborations between ” THE QUICKIE” and ” ON THE COUCH WITH KOEL”.
Apart from turning to your legendary parents and turning to Aishwarya, how do you, when you hit the bulls eye and your films is a hit, keep yourself grounded ?
I am not trying to be brash. This actually happened. I started my career and things didn’t go as planned. Today I realize that they shouldn’t have the way I was performing. I gave my first ever hit in 2004, in August, which was a movie called “Dhoom”, and as soon as Adi Chopra, the producer said congratulations, you gave your first hit, I remember I started jumping in Adi’s garden and started crying because at that point I felt that I cant do it. There is no way. I had lost complete confidence. I was convinced that I don’t know how to give a hit. And I called my sister, who then went ballistic, and then my mother called and she got all motherly with me. And everybody started calling me and everybody was really happy and then we went for this promotional event and the crowd was insane. And I was like wow..this is fantastic..it is nice to be a star, you know. Because I have been to premiers, where finally, the entire star cast has been announced and I have been called on last and I expect this big roar and there are only 4-5 people left in the audience. I have been to like promotional events in the mall where there have been 15 people and they are like looking oh, and then they carry on shopping. I have been through that. And to see crowds. You know chanting your name and all…was surreal. And I remember driving back with Uday Chopra and I was a bit inflated, you know, okay, I am feeling good about myself and I am a movie star and this is really cool. Then Uday dropped me home, and I was walking with a swagger and I rang the bell, and my father opened the door and he was so happy but I feel like an ant again. You know people forget that, I live with Amitabh Bachchan. How am I going to let it get to my head? I mean he opens the door for me when I get home in the evening.
And what happens, when a film doesn’t do well? For instance, “Raavan”. A lot was expected out of it. It had Aishwarya and you coming back after marriage. The promos looked great, but it flopped. How did you deal with that? What was your anti depression mechanism?
There is nothing that you can do for that. “Raavan” was tough and it knocked me out. And I have no qualms saying it because a lot of times, we actors don’t like to talk about these things, about our failures, but at end of the day it happens on a public platform, so you cant be an ostrich about it. Very honestly, “Raavan” was an upper cut. It hit me bad. The passionate reactions that the film got I did not expect. I was in big trouble. After the premiere, I had to come back and shoot for my friend, Rohan Sippy’s “Dum Maaro Dum”, and I couldn’t shoot. I remember, the first day I went to shoot and I just couldn’t shoot. A rug was pulled from under my feet. And I sat in the trailer and I was getting ready and suddenly Rohan came and he said ‘all okay’ and I said ‘yeah, why’, and he said ” you have been there for 6 hours” and I said “what?!”, and he said ‘tell you what, lets wrap. you tell me when you are ready to shoot”. I mean he has known me since I was a kid, he understood, and I’ll never ever forget that gesture of his.
You say that you watch your films repeatedly to look for flaws. Do you find them? What do you think goes wrong?
You really need the guts to say ‘oh my god, I cant believe that I did that’ I have atleast 6 notebooks, filled with notes, and I think you just have to be honest with yourself. This is also part of an actors job.
Your next film “Game”, is a whodunit, action, thriller, and you have claimed many times that physical appearance is not something that you care about so much, as an actor. Please explain?
No, I have not said that. I said the physicality of a character, is more important to me than my personal physicality. Training just bores me, but I still do it. I did a movie called ” Guru”, for which I put on 20 kgs. I did it at a time when everyone was building a 6 pack. And on some level I justified it to myself that that’s the cool thing to do. And I made public appearances, in which people said, oh you re mad, you have put on weight. At first, I just brushed it aside. Actors don’t have the luxury, to look the way they want to look all the time. They have to look the way the characters look. I believe that. Even in a system like in India, where the star has to be the star, but I believe in submitting to the character.
Apart from crazy the mad love, what has Aishwarya brought in your life and what have you brought in hers?
I think she has brought herself in my life. That’s wonderful enough. I love the way she cares for me, I love the way she cares for my family and takes care of my parents. It might sound regressive, but every guy loves that about his wife. He is very concerned about how his parents are going be taken care of. And I think she’s brough a bit of calm in my life. What women do beautifully to men, is anchor them, because we tend to fly off. And I think every wife does that. I believe it because I see my mother do it to my father, I saw my grandmother do it to my grandfather. And I have absolutely no idea what I have brought into her life. But I hope its all good.
In India all legendary actors have had to stick to an image and which they later break away from. Your father was the angry young man, Shahrukh has been the romantic man, Salman has been the bad boy. You don’t have an image. Is this a conscious thing because you think it”s constraining? Or are you still waiting to see what you want to be?
My image is that I don’t have an image. And honestly, I’ve never thought about it. Maybe I should think about it. . A lot of people say may be you should be thinking about it. I have always been like a kid in a candy shop, who’s just done films that excite him. You know, oh wow, this is cool, lets do it. I have never thought that this goes against my this image or that image. I have never thought like that. And I believe that today the requirement from actors is not that. I think they judge you from film to film. I think the era of the people going into a theatre to watch a star’s film is gone. That era of my father’s has stayed with my father and will go with my father. Today we are more readily available through media, through social networking sites or whatever. The whole requirement from an actor is that the audience wants to be your buddy and they don’t always want to say “oh my god I love you”. They want to say “wassup man, how’s your film going, you shooting well..what did you do this morning…what do you wear etc” and I like it. I am on twitter. I like the interaction, good or bad.