He turned sixty-nine recently and has gone through the kind of ups and downs in life very few human beings have. Amitabh Bachchan, however, has faced them with confidence and courage, working with the same passion and dedication tirelessly for the last forty years. Bollywood superstar Big B reveals his thoughts in a chat with Ali Peter John…
Amitabh Bachchan or Big B as he is reverently known, has been one of the most successful stars of Bollywood. Having made a name for himself in the 70’s by playing the ‘angry young man’, Bachchan has now moved on to playing patriarchal roles with the same intensity that he displayed in his heydays. On the occasion of his recent 69th birthday, the actor faced a fusillade of queries from assorted journalists.
Presenting excerpts from a chatathon…
What does a birthday mean to you?
It is a day to think about the things that you have done through the year that has passed and think of how you can make up for the mistakes and blunders you have made in the year to come. Of course, it is also a day to celebrate because if it was not for this day you would be no one and nowhere.
What are the feelings uppermost in your mind on this birthday?
It is a difficult question to answer in haste. There are so many hundred feelings that are crossing my mind all the time because there are so many things to do and you want to do, but there is so little time to fulfill all your feelings and even your ambitions.
How do you feel this birthday is different from all your early birthdays?
I have only grown older and wiser, hopefully. Time is a great teacher and also a great healer. It has proved it at every birthday and it is proving it again and I hope it goes on as long as time allows me to.
You have had a very hectic life all through the years. Form where do you get the energy?
It is the grace of God, the blessings of my parents and the abundant love of the people I have been receiving during my entire life.
How are you preparing to play the most important role in your life – the role of a real-life grandfather?
I am not becoming a grandfather for the first time. I have had this privilege twice. My daughter, Shweta has two children. But, in a way this time, I cannot explain why I am so very delighted and even delirious about being a grandfather. I don’t have to make any practical preparations to welcome my third grandchild. I am only preparing myself inwardly and you have to have the experience of waiting for your grandchild to know what it feels. I have been in a very excited mood ever since I came to know about my getting an award which is much more precious than all the awards I have won in the world.
‘KBC 4’ is once again the most popular reality show on television. Your take?
I don’t wish to take all the credit for the success. It is a great triumph for the quiz master, Mr. Siddharth Basu and his intelligent team. It is also a big victory for the channel, Sony which has not lost faith in the show or in me. I am also very grateful to the response of the people who want to take part in the show and all those millions of people who still have the patience to listen to an old man blabbering away and sometimes even trying to show off his knowledge by going away from the script. KBC has played a very important part in my career. Some say that it even gave me a new life when my career as an actor was not doing very well and all those who say that are absolutely right.
Your speech at the function to honour Lata Mangeshkar was like a piece of literature. Many including the Bharat Ratna awardee singer felt you could make a very good writer. People who read you on your blog and twitter also believe you can. What do you have to say?
I must have made a good speech that evening but one good speech doesn’t make one a writer. Writing is not as easy as people think it is. I have seen my father toiling away for hours sitting on a wooden chair with a glass of warm water into which he dipped his fingers whenever they gave him a lot of pain after hours of writing. I don’t have any of the qualities to be a writer and that is one main reason why I have turned down many of the most tempting offers to write my autobiography. I can promise you that I can sit and learn cooking when I have no work as an actor, but I will never put pen to paper because I know I just can’t do it.
What are your plans for AB Corp in the time to come?
I have a team working on different projects. We are planning Hindi films, but are also expanding and going out to make films in various other languages. It is still too early to talk about the details.
How many films are you working on now and how many more to start in the near future?
I know that I am growing old and will not be able to do as many films as I used to do. I am only doing RGV’s Department now. There are many other scripts, but I have still to go through some of them and sometimes I wonder if I will be able to do justice to most of them. How many films can an actor at 69 and with so many health problems do? However, I will continue to work till the last day of my life.
I heard you are playing Chanakya in a film. Dilip Kumar was to play the role in the film ‘Chanakya’ to be directed by B. R. Chopra but was shelved because they found it a very difficult subject to make. What is the truth about your playing the role?
I don’t want to comment on any subject that is still only in the realms of the imagination of some people. If I am doing such a prestigious role, I would love to talk about it.
How do you react to gossip, rumours and controversies at this stage of your life?
I take it in my stride, if it is something very silly and makes no sense. But if it is something that affects my integrity and honesty and especially if it harms any member of my family, I will fight it tooth and nail. I have done it in the past and if I am given any reason to do it now, I will do it with all my strength.
How is it as you prepare to enter what some call the scary seventies?
Like any other normal man. I am not a superman as people often call me.
What and who inspired you to come out with an album with the Hanuman Chalisa?
It is all because of my faith in Lord Hanuman and also my tribute to my mother who used to recite the Hanuman Chalisa in good times and bad times.
How does it feel to be a part of the cast of a great story like "The Great Gatsby"?
I can only feel very fortunate.
Any ambitions left incomplete?
To find the peace of mind which I have not really experienced all my life, especially after coming to the strange world of film which has its own rules and regulations that are so very difficult to follow.