Abhishek Bachchan’s next release is Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan – a film he’s doing after two years. While AB has had many offers, there has been talk that he has refused more than five projects in that time. Bollywood insiders speculate that he consults Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on all his films and she has the final nod on his scripts – apparently, only after her go-ahead does he say yes to a project or rejects it. Two cases in point being Manmarziya where he signed on the dotted line and JP Dutta’s Paltan where he backed out almost at the last minute.
When we tell Aishwarya that many people feel that she advises Abhishek on his choice of films, including Manmarziyan and Paltan, there is a moment of stunned silence. Then Aishwarya laughs and says, “Why would people assume that about me? It’s not true at all to say that I advise him on his career and movies. Our views and thoughts on movies may be completely different from each other. Abhishek is an extremely independent individual and a thorough professional as an actor and work, so even if I did advise him, why would he listen to me? He has a mind of his own and it’s his life. And let me tell you that this includes films that we are approached to do together. When we are approached for a film together, we hear it independently and decide. If its works as an actor and how we see it, we accordingly take a call but individually. Like I choose what films I do based on my reasons, so does he. More than getting into just the character that you want to do, it’s a combination of the writing and the director that touches a chord in you.”
Elaborating further, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan says, “There have been books and remakes but if it’s not magical you don’t see it happen – whether you or somebody else does it and so many of them never did see the light of day, possibly because one didn’t experience something special or magical about it. I call these huge experiences and not the canvas which one chooses to make it. Like after Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas I chose to do Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali and for me both were huge experiences in films but I remember Sanjay laughing and saying that Rituparno has made it at 1/50th of his own budget and Rituda did and both made glorious pieces of work that I so cherish and grateful to have done one after the other.”
The actress adds that her and Abhishek Bachchan’s approach to work, until now has remained individualistic. “And this is what should be. You should individually address it as actors if it excites you to be a part of then. In case of joint narrations too as a couple, if we choose to do a film together, we will do it according to what the team believes in, irrespective of whether we are a real life couple or not. We cherish Mani Ratnam’s Guru and Raavan incredibly because there were rich experiences as actors as artists to just get to work together with him.”
Do they discuss the script when they get offered a movie together? “Yes, sometimes we discuss it aloud. When we get offered scripts together, we get tempted to say yes but then we take stock and say, really would this excite us? People feel we should do films together because we are a real life couple but the question that should make us think – would it be interesting to view it like that because there is a perspective and sometimes you obviously want to fight it and say why should that define our choices because we are actually approaching it as individual actors? But then if that is so strong and inherently existent in the viewers mind, it’s something we cherish and respect as a real life couple because we both and Aaradhya receive so much love, good wishes and blessings from people, we are so grateful for all that. That is our reality too and a factor to consider so then yes, we do discuss that among ourselves.”