Abhishek Bachchan gathers his [Players]
In a heart to heart interview Abhishek Bachchan tells Jyothi Venkatesh that he used to use his reviews to learn how to improve as an actor, instead of getting angry with his critics, who he feels have made him a better actor over the years.
Is Players the remake of Italian Job?
Basically, Players is about a gold heist. I’d say that though Players is actually the official remake of Italian Job, I prefer to call it an adaptation since the basic dacha is that of Italian Job, which was first made in 1969 with Michael Cain when I was not even born and once again in 2003 with Mark Wahlberg.
Why did you accept the offer?
Besides the fact that I have always wanted to work with Abbas and Mustaan, I love cars and enjoy doing stunts and wanted to do something like what Amin did in Dhoom. Abbas and Mustan are so simple and Indian but make films with style and modern cuttings. The best thing about Players is that the rights have been bought from Paramount Pictures who are also the co-producers of the film.
With the exception of Omi Vaidya with whom I am doing a film for the first time, I know each and every one of my co-actors in Players. I have already worked with Bobby and Sikander is like the younger brother I have never had. Neil Nitin Mukesh’s father Nitin Mukesh was working with Hrishikaku and I had bumped into him on the sets whenever papa was shooting for Hrishikaku, when I was a child. I know Sonam since the time she was also a kid. As far as Bipasha Basu is concerned, not many know that she was the first actress with whom I had faced the camera for the first time, even before Refugee went on the floors.
What is your role in Players?
I play the role of Charlie Mascaranhas. I am the leader of the team, like the captain of the gang who makes the master plan. This character was there in the original version too. I am career thief but pretend to be a chartered accountant. Charlie is not greedy for money. If he is doing whatever he does, it is for emotional reasons for the sake of Vinod Khanna, who is like my Godfather in the film. It is by the way for the first time that I am working with Vinod uncle in a film. I told him on the sets that I had already acted with Anthony and Akbar but it was for the first time that I was working with Amar in a film and I am a huge fan of his.
Did you try to develop a 6 pack abs to get into the skin of your role in Players?
I do not think that having a 6 pack abs is a sign of health. My father Mr Amitabh Bachchan never made his body because though he did not flaunt his 6 pack abs, he has the face pack which is the most important believe that God has given you fat for some reason. I am possibly more athletic than any other actor but I have not seen the need to show my body. It is important to look your part as an actor because 50% of your work is over if you look the part. If I get to play a boxer, I’d definitely prepare with my body. Your physicality is very important as an actor. Jai Dixit cannot look like Gurukant. Today the audience has become a bit more demanding and hence actors submit to their looks unlike earlier when they used to work in twenty films at the same time.
How do you feel when you look back at your career, with all its ups and downs?
When I look back at my early days as an actor, I realize that I was so bad and wonder how I was tolerated. In fact, I used to use my reviews to teach me how to improve myself as an actor, instead of getting angry with my critics, who I feel have made me a better actor over the years. Reviews matter a lot for an actor, though I am not too sure whether they matter at the box office. If an actor tends to live in an ivory tower, it is only because he is just protecting himself by building layers since he is petrified.
Besides talent, what do you think an actor needs to click?
One thing that an actor needs is confidence. If you have no confidence in yourself, you are finished as an actor. An actor wants only recognition and appreciation. Zero money and award are what an actor likes. I had worked with the biggest of filmmakers but nothing worked till Dhoom clicked. By then, I was so frustrated that I thought that Dhoom also would flop. When Dhoom succeeded, it was not like vindication but I heaved a sigh of relief. You see, an actor is insecure because sometimes even if he does well his job, if the editor or the cinematographer does not do his job well, the actor is blamed.
Would you blame yourself for the wrong choices of films as an actor?
How can you blame me if I agreed to work in Mani Ratnam’s Raavan, when I was offered the film after Guru, which was considered my best performance? If Raju Hirani approached Aamir after 3 Idiots with a film, do you think Aamir will say no to him? Name one actor in the entire world who has given only hit after hit in his career? You cannot take your hit or flop seriously as an actor. I had given eight hits in a row but no one spoke about it but when I gave eleven flops one after the other, people made it a point to rub it in. I was quite upset when people attributed the success of Dostana to John Abraham and ignored my contribution to the film. Though people said Paa was a hit, they refused to praise me for having produced the film. People said Laaga Chunari Mein Daag flopped because of me even though I just had done a guest appearance in it.
What advice did your dad give you when you were reeling under flops and been dubbed a failure?
What can be worse than a totally unknown woman who is a stranger slapping me outside Galaxy Theatre after watching my film Shararat? She told me that she felt like slapping me because she felt that my performance in the film was bad considering the fact that I am the son of a great actor like Amitabh Bachchan. It was difficult for me to go home and tell your dad that you have given one more flop when your own dad opens the door for you. You have to see it from the son’s perspective. Dad told me to sign every film that came my way and learn by doing mistakes in film after film, because it was not possible for me to improve myself by sitting at home and twiddling my thumbs. You bare your soul on a daily basis to the entire world as an actor.
Does your dad shower his praises on you?
The only time he said well done to me was when he watched Guru. After Guru he has stopped telling me about my performance, because he is worried that people would feel he is promoting me. My dad has not produced a film till date for me though I have produced two films for him- Paa and Buddah Hoga Tera Baap. It is very convenient for people to say that I am here in this industry because of my father. Just name one star son who has not worked with his father?
Are you in favor of acting in sequels and remakes?
I am the king of sequels. I have already acted in Dhoom and Dhoom 2 and am all set to act in Dhoom 3 with Aamir Khan as the antagonist. i have already done Sarkar and Sarkar Raj, its sequel. I will be acting in the sequel of Dostana and if Players clicks in a big way, I will be game to act in its sequel too, though unless and until a film has its own franchise; it cannot be made as a sequel. I am acting in Players, the remake of Italian Job and Bol Bachchan, the remake of Golmaal.
Do you plan to take up direction too?
Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan are trained in direction unlike me. I like to be told and do not like telling people to act. I do not think that I am inclined towards taking up acting.
How was it working with your dad in the Versa ad earlier and films like Bunty Aur Babli and Sarkar?
It was like a screen test for me to work with my dad. It was the easiest shoot for me because I did not have to work at all. Dad makes his co artistes too act well. To tell the truth when we were shooting for the ad, I was dying with nervousness. Hence I was obviously nervous about working with my dad in Ramgopal Varma’s Sarkar but at the same time excited at the prospects of working with him in a film for the first time.
How do you react to the comparisons between you and your papa?
I think it is very inevitable and I won’t even crib. The day I took up acting, I’d decided that I shouldn’t at all think that I am Mr. Amitabh Bachchan’s son when I am in front of the camera. I cannot dare to compare myself or compete with him because I cannot afford to let him down as his son. I’d like to imbibe every quality of his though till date I think I’ve inherited only my papa’s height, not his sterling qualities.
What has your father taught you?
I hope I don’t sound clichéd but the fact is that my ambition is to be a good human being and do whatever I can do to the better of my ability both personally as well as professionally, without hurting any one in the process. My father has taught me and my sister Shweta to believe that in life it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down but what matters is the number of times you manage to pick yourself up and carry on.
How do you react when people say you copy your dad’s mannerisms?
Why do people forget that I am my father’s son and I am bound to look and behave like him even if I don’t want to? As far the critics are concerned they have a job to do and they are doing it. They have an opinion and they have to express it, which is fair enough. I have to listen to what they have to say and then take into consideration how much of it is really mine and how much doesn’t belong to me. If they think that I am trying to act like my father then that’s what they think. I can’t go around clarifying myself to everybody. I will be wasting my time. I’d rather channelise my energies to do my work. I will look like him and behave more so than anybody else. From my side there has been no conscious effort to imitate him. You must understand that if I’ve been given a dance step, I am not going to argue with the choreographer. I will have to do what I am told to do.
Do the directors urge you to act like your father?
No one has ever told me to do so.
Has being a Bachchan worked to your disadvantage?
I haven’t faced any disadvantage so far. I do agree that there is a lot of pressure. But that is something I have not really thought about. I have realized that if I keep thinking about it I won’t be concentrating on my work. I am not going to think about living up to the lofty expectations people have of me. I can’t be dad. Nobody can.
What type of roles do you prefer?
I prefer all type of roles. I’m at ease in serious & roles with strong emotions & convictions.
– Jyothi Venkatesh