Amitabh Bachchan gets talking about his upcoming Bhootnath Returns, a social satire, working with child actor Parth Bhalerao, the reach of the small screen and more. Harshikaa Udasi listens in
You just have to follow that quarter-of-an-hour-early rule when called in for an interview with Amitabh Bachchan. My sports shoes are on and mercifully so, for, in spite of being early, I have been beaten by the Senior B who has arrived a full 60 minutes before the mediated time and is giving mainly enthusiastic and some icy responses to the journo in the hot seat. His film Bhootnath Returns is poised to give BR Films the fillip it needs and it appears that Bachchan is leaving no stone unturned to make it a success. When we settle down for our tête-à-tête, he is all smiles and warmth. You’d feel almost comfortable in the company of this ‘ghost’ if not for a camera handled by two people (part and parcel of every AB interview) peering at you.
Tell him that he seems to have top-of-the-mind recall for anyone and everyone between the age of 90 and three, and he smiles. “It’s just that the modes of communication keep changing. Now, even if you are not going to the movies that often, there is the television which is omnipresent. It appeals to the younger generation. Because it comes to your home, its characters are more recognisable. So if a kid too recognises me, then it’s all because of that medium. It feels good, definitely, yes,” he says. And he seems to be putting the medium to its optimum use. Not only is he hosting season 8 of KBC, but also co-producing a fictional social issues-based show directed by Anurag Kashyap for Sony.
On the films front, Bhootnath Returns is the second sequel he has green lighted in his career of four-and-a-half decades, the first being Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar Raj (sequel to Sarkar). “I got interested in the concept behind this sequel. Nitesh Tiwari, who is well-known in the advertising world and had helped us tremendously during the past few seasons of KBC, came to me with the idea for this film and I agreed. It’s an intelligently written satire. It is a telling story of the social situation of present times that unfolds through the eyes of Bhootnath and Akhrot, played by the child actor Parth,” he says.
Taking the story forward from the first film, Bhootnath Returns features Bhootnath being denied entry into a fictitious ‘bhootland’ since he wasn’t able to scare even a kid (in Bhootnath). The only way he can redeem himself now is by scaring a handful of people to prove his mettle as a ghost. He arrives with the intention of scaring the daylights out of people and runs into a kid who can see him. Unsuccessful at his task, Bhootnath observes the pathetic social conditions of this kid and how the two get together and try to even out the creases forms the story. “I don’t know the solution for today’s problems and issues, but Bhootnath Returns looks at what can be done,” says the actor, who had once dabbled in politics and has thereafter insisted he would never venture into it again.
Bachchan says that working with child actor Parth Bhalerao (Akhrot) has been a challenge. “People would suppose working with kids is very easy, after all you are up against a kid. No. Being natural is a kid’s forte, whereas we have to ‘act’ natural. So when I was doing a certain scene with Parth, I kept thinking about what he would do next and how I would respond. Children are spontaneous actors. Parth kept me on my toes,” says the senior actor. “In fact, kids today are so talented, it’s difficult to keep up. I often visit rural schools and even there, children read so much and so well. At 2, Aaradhya handles the iPad like a pro. She can go exactly to the apps she wants to. She knows how to use everything. If anything goes wrong on my computer, I have to call my grandson in Delhi. Yes, it’s embarrassing.”
Dearth of films for kids
Asked if there was a dearth of good films for children in India, he says, “The Children’s Film Society, India, which Jaya headed once, is doing its bit but yes more needs to be done. Film is a medium through which a lot can be achieved. Especially through children’s films.”
The actor has given some of his best hits under the BR Films banner — Zameer, Baghban, Babul and Bhootnath. “I have had a very fruitful association with BR Chopra and his son Ravi, who is unfortunately ill now and has been so for some time. For his sake, I want Bhootnath Returns to be a big hit.”
On his association with Rajinikanth
What’s in the pipeline…