Almost half way into the interview I see something quite rare. Amitabh Bachchan elated, happy, smiling. Not that he doesn’t smile, but this time it was a rare one. I’ve always wondered why we haven’t tagged him the sexiest man alive in the world. But all across the globe Amitabh Bachchan is better known as the ‘hero’. Hero of Indian cinema, hero of millions of people. That’s what he’s good at, mixing ordinariness, even haplessness, with luck and strength that comes out of nowhere. The winner against the odds. He’s not showy or glossy. He doesn’t package or sell himself. He once said empathy was not a talent but a disposition. All of the above may have combined to make him one of the best Indian heroes of all time. With Paa, he is re-introducing himself as a hero…a thirteen year old one. With thousands of people who pray for his good health, good films and good family every second, here’s one wish which we make today for him – We pray that he remains like Auro – charming, cheerful and cute. Over to Big B!
Did Auro seep into your daily life? I mean, has he changed you as a person Mr. Bachchan?
Firstly, it’s this whole process of putting the make up on which is harsh. There are eight different layers to my make up in the film. I cannot eat and talk for four hours of applying make up. Then after I finish the shot, it takes two more hours to remove it. It’s tasking. Ninety percent of the performance comes out because of the make up. There is a certain innocence about Auro and a certain brightness about him as well which is very infectious. It would be nice for all of us if we all are like Auro. Sometimes it’s good not to know something. When you reach a certain age, you feel hesitant to question because you are under the impression that you know the answer. But I think it’s important in life to question even if you don’t know something. It may be a bit embarrassing but there is no harm in admitting that you don’t know. In that aspect, I think I’m more inquisitive in wanting to know. If you were to come up with a word that I would not understand, I will not pretend that I already know it. So I have changed as a person, haven’t I?
Ninety percent of the performance comes out because of the make up
What makes Paa intimidating?
Paa isn’t intimidating at all. It’s a fun film, a very happy film. It’s a regular story.
You mentioned you had moist eyes after watching Abhishek perform in Guru. What have you to say about this rising genius who is getting better with age and each film?
Abhishek has a huge amount of potential. I’d love to see him in film after film. I don’t know whether it’s a choice which is deliberate but he has always tried to play different roles and as varied as possible without sticking to one genre. He could very well keep on doing the Bunty Aur Bubli or Dostana types of roles but he has always experimented, whether it’s Yuva, Guru, etc. I like to see change. It’s good for an actor to keep on doing that. I envy that Abhishek got a role like Guru. At his age, I never got that opportunity.
Balki makes films from a different perspective. Do you feel you have managed to achieve new skills as an actor from the time you’ve worked with him?
Balki is a fairly laid back and a relaxed sort of a human being. Because he comes from the advertising world, he knows exactly what it is that is going to catch the attention of the audience. I’ve always found him not too dramatised. He is very normal and allows the situation to seep in rather than what the actor’s impression of the situation is. Balki is calm and composed. He keeps correcting me all the time which is wonderful as there is a kind of uniformity in the performance. As you rightly said that he is not the usual kind of film director.
This is the 1st time Abhishek is acting in an AB Corp production. Let’s play a role reversal here. How excited is the father?
Abhishek isn’t just playing the role in the film as an actor but he was also responsible for the entire production of the film. That’s a moment of great pride for me because I see him handling all the affairs and matters and working in the film. It was his suggestion and his conformation to make Paa in a limited budget. He was adamant that he wanted to make this film in not more than Rs. 15 crores. I am very happy that we are able to finish the film in Rs. 14.75 crores which is a huge achievement.
Abhishek was adamant that he wanted to make this film in not more than Rs. 15 crores
They say premiÃ¨res have become a thing of the past in our industry. But let me ask you this important question. How vital is a film’s premiÃ¨re? Or is it any different?
There are various aspects to a premiere. It could be a moment of celebration for the entire cast and crew who have worked hard towards making a film, and now want to share that happiness with the people that they care for. Premieres are the coming of togetherness of the entire film industry. We are proud that this is our field, this is our wealth, this is our people and look what we did. With the electronic media and the print media and the broadcast who are so interested in the lives of the celebrities that premieres becomes an occasion for them. It does garner a lot of attention. Other celebrities talk and comment on the film, so yes, it does help to build up an atmosphere for the film. It’s wonderful to have premieres.
I’m delighted that there has been a spontaneous affinity to Auro and the promo. Auro is a likeable person and I hope audiences like him
What was the stand out moment for you when you went to produce Paa?
There was never any doubt about the quality of the product that we were wanting to make. In fact, the idea of wanting to produce the film came from Abhishek because he believed that if the two members of the family who own a company called AB Corp Limited and who are also working in the film together, they can produce a film too. We had to fight for it a bit but eventually we both agreed to produce it and Paa is now our property.
How emotional a journey is Paa for you as an audience when you see Auro having progeria?
I hope the audiences identify with Paa, and judging from just sixty seconds of his first exposure to the audience, I’m delighted that there has been a spontaneous affinity to Auro and the promo. Auro is a likeable person and I hope audiences like him.