In Hyderabad to shoot for ‘Johnny Mastana’, Amitabh Bachchan talks about his work, Abhishek and the Oscars
Hyderabad is not a new destination for Amitabh Bachchan. What has made this schedule memorable is shooting near Charminar. The veteran actor was in town shooting for his forthcoming film Johnny Mastana. Taking time off to field our questions, he shares his experience.
“It was wonderful to be shooting near this impressive monument and the surrounding bylanes,” he says and rues not getting enough time to be around the place for long, owing to the short and quick shooting schedule. Shooting in the busy Old City can be a tricky proposition, but Mr. Bachchan is in praise of the authorities and people of the Old City. “The authorities made excellent arrangements. The people of the area were also most disciplined and cooperative. There was no interruption or unruly behaviour. They understood our work and respected it, a culture that I’ve always admired about the people of this region,” he says.
Johnny Mastana comes from Shoojit Sircar, who directed the critically-lauded Yahaan. Says Amitabh, “I’ve seen portions of Yahaan and what I saw was impressive. Shoojit I have worked with in several ad films; he is a meticulous and passionate director. He is a trained actor and has spent time with those connected with the NSD. To have acting abilities for a director, I feel, is most essential. The communication of what exactly he would want from his artist becomes easy and comfortable.” The film also stars Sarika, Dia Mirza and Jimmy Shergill. “It’s a story on the relationship between a husband and wife,” is all that Amitabh will share about the film, for now.
The actor dons a new look for the film, which requires a beard stuck on with glue that apart from its burning sensation, also threatens to induce asthma. The Asthalin pump with medication is always kept handy. Amitabh brushes off mention of the strenuous makeup routine with, “There is an unwritten law on the code of conduct in our profession. At least I like to believe that there is. Once a commitment has been made, it has to be adhered to. The gum and sticking beards is cumbersome and irritable, but we overcome it because of the larger issue — the commitment. That is sacrosanct.”
Coming up are a host of films including Johnny Mastana, Rann, Alladin, Pa and Teen Patti. Is it work that keeps him going? “Work is the much desired adrenalin in our profession and for me, personally, an essential requisite,” he agrees.
The conversation steers to Delhi-6 and he is happy with Abhishek’s growth as an actor. “Abhishek is an untrained actor; his initial claim to the profession was that he was Jaya’s and my son. But after the first film, he was on his own. He has been taking the right steps, albeit small, in the right direction and has a long way to go despite some impressive and mature performances, like in Guru and Delhi-6.”
Of late, the actor has been turning to his blog to put things in perspective. Recently, after a television channel showed visuals of Kareena Kapoor ‘snubbing’ him at an awards function, he retaliated with a photograph clicked by his own staffer to clear the air. He agrees that the blog helps him iron out issues: “I can now respond to or counter a charge without the fear of it being corrupted. The blog’s direct access to the people and vice versa has helped in setting the record straight in a manner and language dictated by me. I like that. But that is not the only activity that I pursue on the blog. Writing a post is almost like talking to myself. It’s therapeutic. The fact that many listen in is an enjoyable addition.”
Finally, he is ecstatic at A.R. Rahman, Gulzar and Resul Pookutty winning Oscars. “What a great moment for Indian cinema and Indian talent!” he exclaims, adding, “All three of them are deserving of reward and we congratulate them and pray that they continue to achieve greater heights.”
SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO