What happens when you suddenly decide to meet Abhishek Bachchan in three hours? Firstly, it’s almost impossible. Then, after some thought, you try and make it possible. I did the latter. Well, for starters, you need to be prepared to be the last one to interview him. That’s exactly what happened. I was greeted by his P.R manager into the room where the actor was giving interviews to a few television channels on his launch as a host on the game show, ‘National Bingo Night’ on Colors channel which starts in India from January 23 at 9 pm. I was meeting him after a year but his stature, his command, his attitude, his confidence, his generosity, and his wholesomeness all looked taller than him. Abhishek Bachchan looked like one towering monarchy on an evening where coffee, tea and some complimentary pillows were offered to make our wait more comfortable. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent met Mr. Phenomenon – Mr. Abhishek Bachchan at Taj Lands End, Bandra, and played the good old game of question and answers. Bingo! here it is.
Both, you and your father are influential when it comes to films. How influential will your game show ‘National Bingo Night’ be?
I think, we shouldn’t take this influential thing too seriously. Colors is a wonderful channel. But apart from having successful shows and being the number one channel on television right now, what I really appreciate about them is that they are very socially aware. Prime time soap such as ‘Balikavadhu’ put out some important social messages about our Indian society.
And that Colors is going to launch itself in the UK is going to be an added benefit too. Plus, your father, Mr Amitabh Bachchan is a brand ambassador for the channel in the UK and the US.
Well, a channel is a channel. It’s good to know that Colors is going to launch in the UK. But the show is going to be based here in India. So the overseas viewers can watch it but can’t play it. That’s about it. But they will have as much fun as we do out here through the game show. It’s nice to reach out to the people from your country who are based off shores. Through the channel and the show, we give them the feeling that they are still connected to their homeland and if they feel that their connect through Bingo is more, I’ll be more than happy to bring the show out there.
The overseas viewers can watch it but can’t play it
Just like you were invited on the Oprah Winfrey Show, don’t you think shows like that will carry more substance to it and still be tackling with social issues of our society?
I think we have had various talk shows like Oprah which were quite successful in India. I think Oprah is great. I felt really honoured to be invited by her. She was terribly sweet and is one of the warmest people you’ll ever meet in your life. It’s quite sad to know that she is going to be putting an end to her influential talk show. Each different audience has a different pallet and a different set of requirements. Indian society, culture and television is very similar to our food. In the West, you’d probably eat some roast chicken and mashed potatoes, but in India we have everything in our food. It’s salty, sweet, spicy, etc. We want everything. And likewise, most of our television programming is skewed towards that. When Bingo first came out in America and Australia, it was more about just playing the game and getting on with it. But the Bingo in India is going to be filled with fun and frolic. We are inviting some celebrities on the show, we’ll be joking around, dancing, etc.
How de-stressful do you think any game shows are?
For the audience, I think it’s very de-stressing. But for me, it’s insane. It’s very tough and a lot of hard work. We promoted the entire game show on the lines of just chilling out and having a nap. It was called ‘Aaram classes’. It was all about having fun, nothing else.
But it was a bit misleading because many of them thought that you’re starting your own tuition classes?
(laughs) Maybe I should. I should enroll myself in such tuition classes.
Any bit of expert comments you received from your father on the dinner table as you are making your debut on the television?
Nothing really. He just said, ”Have fun.” He told me to be genuine and enjoy myself. I had to be warm. What is important is the fact that if all this comes across, the viewers are going to like the show more. I am not playing a character here. I am playing myself. I am being myself and am hoping that people like me (laughs).
I am playing myself. I am being myself and am hoping that people like me
As a citizen of India, what do you think is the best way to connect to the viewers sitting in some remote village or small towns?
I think the television is a great way to reach out to the Indian audiences. Our films too are a great way to reach out to our audiences. Today, our world has become smaller. It’s so easy to really relate and connect with everybody through the internet. We’ve got Facebook, Twitter, etc. When it comes to the rural villages of India, well, the satellite channels have penetrated through their houses. People sitting in a small hut can watch us and enjoy.
Can you recall playing any game for the fun of it and things going wrong?
I remember playing basketball and broke my leg. But honestly, I love games. Board games, indoor games, outdoor games, etc. are very important for a healthy lifestyle and a lot of what I am today is because of the sports I used to play as a kid. I don’t think anything wrong can happen if you play it safe.
Bingo is aired on a Saturday between 9 to 10 in the night. Well, that gives a good enough reason for the entire family to be together and play the game, right?
Yeah. I don’t think our country, or for that matter, any countrymen, step out of their house before 10 pm. The show is having a perfect timing. It’s a good reason to come and spend time with your family and play Bingo before going out. And if you win, you can spend your money in the night out.
How would you spend the money if you win? I’m sure you’ll support some cause, etc?
(laughs) I think the best gift I can give anybody or to myself is to spend some quality time with my family and friends. So I’ll try and spend some time instead of money.