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Amitabh Bachchan : “I felt uncomfortable doing Nishabd”

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“I felt comfortable doing Cheeni Kum, I felt uncomfortable doing Nishabd,” said Amitabh Bachchan in a freewheeling confessional interview with Editor-in-Chief of Times Now Arnab Goswami in his weekly show Frankly Speaking. For once Big B gave a comprehensive answer to the repeated barbs of Naseeruddin Shah who has said at many an occasion of Mr Bachchan’s minimal contribution to experimental or parallel cinema. “The kind of experimental cinema that Naseer talks of was perhaps a little limited as far as its box office content was concerned, therefore you tended to shy away from it,” he said. So without much ado, here is Amitabh Bachchan’s exclusive interview.

Arnab: So much is happening actually, when one looks back since we last met, the last eight months since we last met on the sets of this show, new films, a lot of events in your personal life, Abhi-Ash wedding…
Amitabh: that’s right.

Arnab: And professionally you are doing newer things. How do you look back? What’s been for you the happiest moment, if there’s not a….
Amitabh: Well… if you are gonna push me to the wall then I’ll say obviously the wedding of the son…but you know this is life, everyday there is something happening and … and when you are in a, in a, profession which is high profile….then something or the other keeps happening this is life..

Arnab: are you working harder today than you worked earlier?
Amitabh: I… don’t know..

Arnab: Like pushing yourself?
Amitabh: I don’t know, I …have never considered using any yardstick to measure whether I’m working harder or less, but let’s say that I’m occupied with whatever I’m doing, my day is full and I like it that way, it’s something to look forward to every morning. I don’t know anything else so I’m happy that I have a few films. And I enjoy going to the studio and attempting new things or whatever is offered to me, it’s nice…

Arnab: You know, it was said…This comment had been once made by Naseeruddin Shah & he’d said that why has experimental movies, why have they not happened? And he had been quoted as saying that the one person who’d ruled the film industry-Amitabh Bachchan-in the 70′-80′s even after that…didn’t make an attempt to do it. But now the kind of movies you’re doing are both experiments and they are unconventional. Are you doing it consciously Mr. Bachchan?
Amitabh: Firstly I’m happy, you know… that somebody is noticing that there is a change in our format and in our attempt to do something different, but yes, Naseer is right that in the early years there was this accusation that was leveled not just to me but to all the actors in the mainstream commercial, escapist cinema who had a following, who had a certain profile with the audience and they were often said look, you know you have the strength of the audience and the box-office to be able to make better cinema and therefore why aren’t you attempting it? There were several factors I think that go into this…I think when you initially start off work as an artist the main desire is to get some work, to get the work, you want to succeed to get some more work and you realise that what succeeds is what does well at the box office. The kind of experimental cinema that Naseer talks of was perhaps a little limited as far as its box office content was concerned, therefore you tended to shy away from it, but yes after having achieved a certain degree of recognition this should have been encouraged again but I think, by that time there are several other factors that are working let us say a artist like…a prominent star whose stayed number one for several in the box office he agrees to do something experimental in nature, Will the people who are connected with him and in its business treat it in the same tense or with the same attitude that the actors going to that is really the question? I think not because, a lot of commerce writes ahead of and behind this object of ‘Great Box Office success’ and sometimes it can be very misleading to one. And sometimes it can be very misleading to work. I could be the number one seller at the box office but when I make an experimental film I could be making several considerations for the execution of that project. not necessarily not in the mind s of people who are exploiting it or selling it and that is the danger we feel .cause we never know what the distributor is paying for it and how is he recovering that money and how is he is further selling it and what the exhibitors are paying it and what are the expectations just because there is a cerebral star in it. He may think that this is another movie with lots of song and drama, the usual box office drama content in it, but may end up not finding none of it is there and therefore loose. but he may decide or configure his commercials of that project through that thinking that sort of pre-rights a commercial actor and therefore sometimes there are unfortunate happenings there can be huge losses just because he has bought a part of it thinking this is going to be a commercial film but in fact it is something middle of the road or even less..

Arnab: But when you are pushing the boundaries because you’re recent films the themes themselves Mr. Bachchan, Nishabd and Cheeni Kum they are so unconventional, doesn’t the fear of – that I will not be accepted by the masses or by the audiences not in Mumbai or in Delhi but in Gorakhpur in this role, doesn’t that worry you?
Amitabh: See….when you are playing the leading man then you carry the onus of the birth not the success or failure of that film as well. That’s the time to worry and perhaps that’s the period of my career where this could have been legitimately argued. But I think that now that I’m 65 and I play character roles and the onus of the box-office doesn’t entirely restrict me then I think it makes it much more easier to take these decisions. Also the fact because I’m 65 I obviously can’t do something young therefore there are really no options and if there are enterprising people in Cheeni Kum, Nishabd or the villain in AAG, Ram Gopal Verma’s Aag or several others that are being considered then its very fortunate for me as an actor cause I’m being tested and I’m being examined all over again and the enthusiasm levels to do something or attempt something becomes different all the more potent.

Arnab: Can you pick for our viewers the two most, as you say the actor has to be tested from these two films Nishabd and Cheeni Kum, two moments where you felt you were being tested?
Amitabh: Yeah…I think both of them in their own way were great challenges, I felt Nishabd was more challenging, I felt comfortable doing Cheeni Kum, I felt uncomfortable doing Nishabd, not uncomfortable morally or ethically or according to social standards. Not because of moral or social angle behind the film. It was a tougher role it was pushing me into areas where I had not been before and therefore trying to think more and wonder and that’s what being in a film is all about. if I can have a sleepless night before going on to the sets next morning and I have got butterflies in my stomach next morning then it is worth going to work next morning then it is the test of the examination that going to follow. For an artist I believe that’s very important, you need to keep evolving you need to keep going into areas which you haven’t been before otherwise it becomes very routine and that would be a very sad state of affairs

Arnab: Even more important than box-office success?
Amitabh: I think somewhere you need to have mental balance. You need the box-office success to continuously be at work but if you are going to be doing work which is routine then as an artist you are going to be dishonest and may be cheating your profession. Ideally of course I would like to be working in really creative films, testing my creativity everyday and seeing that the box office is also sent across outside the pavilion…hitting the numbers are concerned, but that does not always happen, I think you take some of the good with the bad and some of the bad with the good.

Arnab: If you look at it Mr. Bachchan you have always been criticized. Is it because of your stature? Is it because of the things that you do?
Amitabh: I actually should be asking this question. It is usually the media that asks. Two things come to my mind when you put a question like that… one is… is there some kind of dissatisfaction you have towards me as a human being as an individual as an artist as a person… a misfit… whatever… the frills that come with being a celebrity or is it that you need to say this because it is going to make good copy because I think this is where the differentiation will come in and you will have to decide it you want the copy or you will be able to say the truth which is which could well be… that ya … we live in a society where there are just very few limited number of people who are celebrities worthy of being talked about and written about and therefore lets keep writing or attacking them because that’s making good copy for us.

Arnab: Well I remember a quote of yours that you gave in an interview in 1999 where you said ‘I am never a confident about my career at any stage’ and you went on to say that ‘everyday I think it is the end of the world and my career is over’. Why would Amitabh Bachchan say something like that?
Amitabh: That’s because you have attached a certain renowned to the name Amitabh Bachchan. It’s just another name, and it’s just another individual, and just another human being who is in the profession and in a medium which is perhaps a little larger than life. All the things that we do are bigger than life and larger in perspective and more heroic and a lot more worthy of adulation and therefore some of that or a very large quantity of that comes on to us.

Arnab: Do you think that Amitabh Bachchan who it is said was rejected by the All India Radio. Does you mind go back to that Amitabh Bachchan? Can you just tell us a little bit more from where you started from because everyone knows, everyone knows your story of coming to Mumbai…
Amitabh: Somebody like

Arnab: What pushes you?
Amitabh: What somebody like you reminds me of the incident then I will think of it. I don’t think about it everyday. I think it will be ridiculous to think about it. I think what happened in the past should be treated like that and move on. It would be terrible I think to dwell in what’s happened in the past because it’s not gonna get you anywhere. It’s happened, it’s happened you move on. Beet gayee so baat gayee… famous line of my father’s verse. But what pushes you is my work. And the fact that I get to play somebody different every morning. I hopefully try to convince other people of that capability of mine and come home hopefully spent the energy that I may have spent putting across this character. Hopefully to have created something new and different. Hopefully to have people some of more discerning people to be able to appreciate that and live again for tomorrow.

Arnab: Did AAG present you this opportunity?
Amitabh: AAG is… Aag is…

Arnab: Did it give you butterflies in your stomach?
Amitabh: Yes everyday and it still does… in the throes of its release. It is a negative role entirely negative role these are some of the fears and dangers that we have if people identify you a great noble, dignified, heroic human being who has done all kinds of nice things in all his movies and now suddenly playing a terrible villain I look upon it as a test. The audience sometimes looks upon it as- How could he do it?

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  1. Comment by Salman

    dunyann ki sub randiyan maray lund pay baith tin hain
    awooo tum gool bhi baith jawoo

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