At almost 70, the original action hero is saving the world once again or let’s put it this way – At almost 70, this man has mortality on his mind. Welcome Amitabh Bachchan aka The Angry Young Man who’s just doesn’t seem to age when it comes to ‘action’. I meet my mentor, my inspiration at his office in Janak on the 3rd floor. As usual, I was at my ritual best. Alright, time to update you guys on my ritual. I’ve made this as a tradition now that every time I meet Mr. Bachchan face to face, I have to hand him over his previous interviews I’ve done in my London newspapers. It began four years ago in Yorkshire. Just like the many indestructible heroes, Big B has come back swinging in the ring yet again doing what he used to and does the best – punching and kicking the baddies. Mr. Bachchan just speaks what’s in his heart and mind. When I say it, you won’t believe it. But when ‘Vijay’ (his most famous screen name) says it, you know it’s the truth. There is awesomeness to Mr. Bachchan’s unabashed masculinity – the swirling gusts of aftershave, the shoulder-punching carousing or even more, who knows! Endurance is an essential part of his male code. His films too depict that in many ways. Dressed in his maroon track suit sipping his ‘kahwa’ with honey, he looked tough even though he was a bit down with cough and cold. I’ve always seen it in his eyes, yes, in Mr. Bachchan’s eyes lay his strength. He garners it from there it seems. For Amitabh Bachchan, it’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s about how much you can take. It’s what I call the return of the ‘angry young man’ – the tag, the label he was given by a journalist back in the 70s. Some actors might have been intimidated by the prospect of stepping into a role in an ‘action’ movie made famous by the legendary Amitabh Bachchan. And the only person who can step in his shoes is Bachchan himself. Well, we’re better off having you back Mr. Bachchan because nothing has changed, everything is the same, even the adulation – We are screaming and saying – We Love You Vijju! Go kick some bu** now. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent gets you Arnold, Stallone, Clint, McQueen, Chan, Salman, Hrithik, Akshay all packed in one: Amitabh Bachchan. The ‘Bbuddah’ never ages! Part one exclusive only on Bollywood Hungama.
You’ve done more action than stunt choreographers may have in their film career. Almost every action hero fan knows the name Amitabh Bachchan. What they don’t know is how the ‘angry young man’ tag originated?
Your community started it all. The line ‘angry young man’ was made up by a journalist back then. I’ve never contributed to it. I’ve never contributed to any kind of epithet. I’m just happy being an artist and doing my job. But I’m sure he must’ve felt that my name had to have a tag line. So all these lovely names and sentences that are constructed by the media, well, I’m living by it (smiles).
The line ‘angry young man’ was made up by a journalist back then
Sir you’re taking our memories back to your alive and kicking days…honestly, did you remember your Agneepath, Hum, Mard, Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony, Khuda Gawah days?
One doesn’t work with this kind of intention that I must do this because I did this then. I’d like to treat every role according to the way it has been written and constructed by the director. Then they guide me and tell me how they want it. If there are certain additions that I want to do and if it is acceptable, then I do it. If there are things that I don’t like, I share it with my director and come out with a solution. By and large, I would like to follow the captain of the ship and I don’t follow what I have done in the past. Yes, I haven’t done any action flicks since those days so I am happy doing it now.
I’ve seen this distinctive affinity that AB Corp has for subjects, stories or scripts, whatever you call …diverse and never tried and tested before – Paa, Bbuddahâ€¦ Hoga Terra Baap, will that trend continue Mr. Bachchan?
We aren’t making any deliberate effort to do that. If Paa and Bbuddah have happened to be never tried or tested then it is purely coincidental. A happy coincidence actually (smiles). I think it’s wonderful to be able to have a bit of diversity in what we do. It lends a lot of credence to our work as professionals. Yes, it also adds a little to the profile of the company because we feel that we are ready to experiment with new ideas and thoughts. I don’t think AB Corp goes out looking for something unique. If it happens and we feel that this is something that we’d want to associate ourselves with, and provided it is done within the kind of budget that is allocated then we go ahead and do it.
…but honestly, when you do action, does it take you back to your Coolie days?
Well, there is always a fear of getting hurt and one is conscious about that. One takes precautions. I will not say that we weren’t conscious of this earlier on. Even the incident in Coolie was something that was so a regular stunt. The day before the horrific incident, I had done a couple of stunts myself like jumping off the bridge on the train, from the running train on the trolley on the platform and that trolley moves down the staircase and I fall. All this and I never had a scratch. But one small punch up scene got me in deep trouble. You get hurt sometimes. It’s a normal phenomenon but precaution is better than cure.
Your favourite action film from India and the overseasâ€¦
Oh gosh! I really cannot remember any. But some of the recent Hollywood flicks have some amazing stunts thanks to the technology. In fact we are in this profession where we sometimes wonder how it was done. Now of course, everything has become so transparent that we come to know what’s CG and what’s not. A common man wouldn’t come to know.
So how did ‘Sara Zamana’ song happened with all the lightings and all? Must’ve been a revelation back then?
‘Sara Zamana’ song was done in Kolkata at the Netaji Subhash stadium and we lit candles in the entire auditorium on the chairs. Then there was my dress that was a nightmare. It was electrically connected to 220V. We had to take a lot of precautions because the wiring had to be very intricate, the wires came out through the trousers stuck to the boots and from the boot it used to go to a plug really far away. We’ve recently done the same thing for Bbuddah too for promotions.
You have worked with so many film directors from Mumbai but what really makes a South Indian director different? I mean, isn’t their description of action humorous?
It’s not a bad idea to make action look humorous. We are faking it in any case in front of the camera. But it’s nice sometimes when you have a little ‘take it away from the intensity’ action (smiles). Many directors out here too have done that.
This is Abhishek Bachchan‘s film too as much as it is yours. What inputs did Abhi give in the making of Bbuddah? And did you both talk it out?
Abhishek ‘Ok’ed the idea of the story and of course the budgeting. He made sure that everything was done in the right budget. He gave his inputs in the marketing too, ideas for promotions and stuff like that.
Where the whole world is going gaga about ‘action’ I want to know more about your ‘Jackson’ moves sir. Spill the beansâ€¦How was it to shake a leg after ‘Shava Shava’?
(Laughs) Yes, it’s been a long time since I shook a leg. Plus, age has also cropped up. I shudder at the thought of having to do a song. Once you have committed yourself, then I guess you have to give yourself in completely and you go along with what the choreographer has to say. But a lot of modern technology of how you shoot a song or an action sequences have taken care of a lot of concerns that we’ve had as far as performances are concerned. Everybody peps you up on the sets and your legs start to move instantly. I loved every bit of it. I was in the mood of dancing and doing action and as Puri rightly said, I couldn’t just stop myself (laughs).
I am going to name one action star and you need to quirkily describe them in your own way:
He has a tremendous body. Great situations were written for him I feel. You know, to give that kind of look, dialogue and what he does. He is almost a super human. In Terminator, the action was the best.
I loved the entire Rocky series. How can anyone forget that? I loved every part and the makers made sure that all of them were one notch higher in action than the other.
I saw Dabangg. It was a very well shot film and I liked what Salman did in it to justify his character. He was very good in Dabangg.
Akshay has done many films with me. But he is known more for his ‘Khiladi’ series as far as action is concerned. He is very versatile in action too. He does all his stunts himself, he is very athletic too and I like that.
He is the only action hero who brings out the humour in his action. That’s his forte and he is very good in it. But the comedian is always the more difficult thing to do. In the circus, the joker is the most talented person. Jackie is that joker.
All his Western classics. For A Few Dollars More, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, etc. Those were cool movies. Then there was this movie where he was looking for some killer where he stalked him. I can’t recall these names now even (laughs).
Hrithik in Krrish is the only action film I remember. He was good in both the parts.
Oh yes! The Great Escape. Did you see that movie? He was terrific in that. It was about the American prisoners of War and how they escape from a Nazi camp. Superb movie. The Magnificent Seven too. Almost everyone was a first timer in that film but look at the galaxy of stars in that film. After that, they all became huge stars in Hollywood. Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, etc were too good.
Harrison Ford and his series of films that he has done as Indiana Jones and then who can forget Star Wars?
(Laughs) I don’t know which action movie I should name but I think that the intensity in Deewar was quite strong. The funny part was that there was only one action scene in the film.
Watch this space for Part 2 of interview with Amitabh Bachchan