Amitabh Bachchan takes time out to talk about “Bigg Boss”, his films, fans and more to Ziya Us Salam

It is a test of patience waiting for the Shahenshah of the Hindi film industry at New Delhi’s Taj Mahal hotel. Outside Diwan-e-Aam, some 16 candles flicker in glass cases, reminding one of that sequence in Sharaabi where the Big B waits for his special friend even as his birthday candles gradually burn away. Inside sits ‘Mehman-e-Khhas’. Some half a dozen chandeliers are all aglow as Amitabh Bachchan adjusts his suit, specially designed for him by New Delhi-based designers Shantanu-Nikhil. However, meeting him is neither easy nor straightforward. Dodging past a hundred-strong media contingent, and men in black, some of whom are polite but firm, others hungry and irritable, is a challenge. The Big B is all set to talk about Bigg Boss Season 3, beginning this Sunday on Colors. He is being called “a pop philosopher” by the channel in a bid to strike a chord with the common man. Bachchan though will have none of it. “I hate the term,” he says, and then adds, “The term ‘pop philosopher’ was coined by the channel. I am partially to be blamed. I agreed because at the end of the day it is a job. But actually it is a balance of passion and job. I am not worried about overexposure. I have not signed a new project for the past few months. I was away due to a friend’s illness. I came back to India recently and got this offer. It is not that I did not get television offers after Kaun Banega Crorepati but this seemed challenging. It is also not a long term thing. As of now, I am there only for three months, for this year’s Bigg Boss.”

Almost nine years after he touched new heights with KBC, is it a risk worth taking at this juncture of his career?

“Over the past many years I have got wonderful opportunities to make use of whatever talent I have. I am grateful for that. I am happy people want me even at this age. I may not be happy with all the jobs I do, but I am nervous about every new venture, be it a film or a television show. It is important to be nervous. That way you give your best.”

Does he have to invent a challenge to inspire himself after 40 years in the industry?

“I no longer play safe. As an actor, I can afford to do the characters now which I could not earlier. Now I am continuously put into situations and characters I may not necessarily be familiar with. For instance, I am playing a 12-year-old boy in Balki’s next film Pa. Initially when Balki approached me, I took it as a joke. Then I understood he meant business. I could not do much home work for that role as I have not come across many patients who suffer from such a disease. But it was very challenging. At times, I would think of normal 12-year-old kids and how they would behave. I thought of Abhishek when he was 12. But I had to play a kid who ages fast because of his disease. I used to take four and a half hours over make-up and another one and a half hours to remove it.”

“Bigg Boss”, Pa… it seems the sun will never set for the superstar, what with Bollywood rewriting its rules for the leading man to accommodate him.

Plain lucky

“I don’t agree that rules are revised for my sake. I am lucky to do good roles at my age. I am only 67 and I will call myself only 67 for the next few days, when one night I will sleep and realise I am a year older. But seriously, Dadamuni (Ashok Kumar) did some splendid roles even at 80. Times have changed since I came into the industry. And I call it the Hindi film industry, not Bollywood. I don’t like the term. It was coined by some journalist. Now it has got into the Oxford dictionary too. So it will stay there forever. But it somehow is disrespectful to our industry, to the people who work here.”

After a pause, Bachchan adds, “I miss the lyricism of the 1950s and 1960s. I miss the poetry, the wonderful dialogues. Those 10-line expressions are out of vogue now with everybody going in for abbreviations. But they had their own charm and challenge for the actors involved.”

Talking of challenges and moving with the times, Bachchan created quite a flutter when he started his blog not long ago. Now, he is all set to give it a new dimension. “Blogging is a new experience for me. When I started blogging I realised people wanted to hear from me, wanted to know more about me, my day. So I had this responsibility to share my experiences with people every day. But now, I find people’s experiences, their responses more educating and edifying. Shortly I will be able to record my blog. That will be a help. As for creating any new controversy with my blog or anything like that, well it does not matter. In my profession, even when you sneeze, the media makes it a controversy.”