“Cinema is a hungry and eager medium” – Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan speaks to Subhash K Jha

Amitji, you’ve shot for Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha for a while now. What has the experience been?
Yes, we have been shooting for Satyagraha . The experience has been exhilarating, for many reasons. One of course the location, the city of Bhopal, its pleasant environment, its warm and hospitable people and two, the joy of working with a large and very committed starcast Ajay, Kareena, Arjun, Manoj, Amrita Rao, among the prominent ones.

Prakash tells me the shooting is physically gruelling?
Much of the work done so far has demanded power filled sequences of emotion and drama not just among the main leads, but indeed 1000-1500 people on set. Commanding and getting them to order is no easy task, let alone extracting performances from them. But credit to Prakashji, his planning and workshop tutoring done months in advance, all has gone extremely well and comfortably. He is a meticulously planned director with a great team that works in clockwork fashion to make sure that all aspects of the shooting are accomplished.

Do you feel the process of cleansing corruption from politics is a subject that cinema should address itself to?

Cinema is a hungry and eager medium. Any aspect of life that it can imbibe, construct, portray, address, it does so with creative aplomb, be it relationships, events, morality, ethics and yes politics too. That is the creative freedom we all enjoy under our Constitution. Whether or not it succeeds in its portrayal, is for the people to decide.

So far, Satyagraha is the only film you have shot for in 2013. Are there other film projects for this year?

Yes that is correct. After Satyagraha is over, other projects shall be taken up.

Are you also preparing for a new season of KBC? How would you take this extremely influential platform for social reform to the next level?

There is another season of KBC 2013 which I am contracted for, the modalities of which are being worked on. As an aside, I am happy that you mention it as being an extremely influential platform for social reform. Since its inception in the year 2000, this is the first time that I have observed it being referred to thus.

You recently did segment of Bombay Talkies with Anurag Kashyap. How was that experience? It was shot at your residence ‘Prateeksha’. What prompted you to give Kashyap this privilege?
It was a part of a compilation of three other prominent directors of our industry – Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar and Dibakar Banerjee and has been done as a tribute to 100 years of Indian Cinema. Four directors having four different concepts and dimensions depicting Indian Cinema, were given a limited budget of Rs. 1.5 cr per film, to make them. Anurag wanted me in a small appearance for his, which I complied with. Yes, it was shot in Prateeksha, because the story demanded that it be.

In the meanwhile, there are reports that you are finally doing fiction on television. Amitji, what kind of show would it be? And how on earth would you find the time in your schedule for the grueling hours required on television?

Contractual understanding restricts me from talking about the ‘TV fiction’ participation. All I can confirm for now is that if and when it does happen, I shall be able to find time for it.

Amitji, your first Hollywood project The Great Gatsby goes to Cannes. Would you be present for the occasion? Do we get to see you and Aishwarya walk the red carpet this May in Cannes?
I have been informed by Warner’s that The Great Gatsby has been invited as the ‘opener’ at Cannes, and yes, I do propose to attend the Festival. I do not know how the schedule shall work out for the red carpet. But Aishwarya and the family have walked the red carpet on an earlier occasion too.

Which new film projects have you said yes to?
There are several, and some of the makers are R Balki, Sudhir Mishra, BR Films with Bhootnath 2, Sujoy Ghosh, Rumi Jaffery and Anurag Kashyap. There are others with whom talks are on, but propriety and ethics do not permit me to talk about them yet.

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