Amitabh bachchan

From Sanyukta, Seasons Correspondent

Amitabh has seen it all. From path-breaking films like Zanjeer, fatal accident on the sets of Coolie to huge losses in running a mega company. He has always been described as a phenomenon and his life story is full of phenomena and incidents. It is not easy to chat up the mega star in a single attempt and return with entire details of his life history. Hence, we attempted to have a few glimpses into his successful past, shimmering present and promising future on the sets of Kaun Banega Crorepati at Film City recently. The talk invariably focussed on his two current obsessions; Star Plus' Kaun Banega Crorepati and son Abhishek's recent flops on the big screen. Excerpts:

You are the only Bollywood actor who has a wax statue at Madame Tussaud's museum in London, how do you find this honour?

Actually, I never thought of myself to be someone who deserved it. I can think of so many names who deserved it more than me. However, it is a great honour and I feel obliged to those who bestowed it upon me.

Earlier, you were selected for the coveted star of the millennium by a net poll. Suddenly, it looks like you have lots of honours coming your way?

(Smiles) I have never given it a serious thought. I am a mediocre actor, I have so many flaws, which I have to yet deal with.

What was this controversy over an interview by Pooja Bedi, why was it not telecast?
It was a decision by the channel, I have nothing to say about it. Its a old matter, why rake it up again and again?

How do you feel hosting KBC for TV after a three-decade long innings on the big screen?
Very nice. In the beginning, I felt very nervous and shy as it was a totally new job for me. There is no prepared script, very few possibilities of retakes and it needs one to sustain a temperament and mood.

But the industry looks down at television as inferior to the big screen, so how do you justify your entry into the small screen?
I have always experimented with my career, always taken risks. As a newcomer, I did films like Ek Nazar and Reshma Aur Shera. Zanjeer gave me the so-called angry-young man image but I was also doing films with Hrishida and Yashsaab, which were in a different genre altogether. My company lent a corporate kind of set-up to making films. I have featured in a video album as well. I have tried my hand at different things and I wanted to try out television as well so I am here.

The programme is a Monday through Thursday one-hour fare, won't that affect your busy film schedule?

Not, really, as I have to shoot only four days in a month for KBC, I can allocate the rest of the days for films. So far it has been good and as I am doing only few films, I don't see any tension in the future.

Do you enjoy doing this show?

Well, the whole atmosphere is disciplined and under control. The floor is air-conditioned, I get good make-up and clothes to wear. In the 80's when I used to shoot for 16 to 18 hours, I never had such facilities. That apart, it is adding to my general knowledge.

Do you intend to do more programmes for television?

I'm openů but at the moment I'm committed to Star Plus. My commitment with Star Plus is for 130 episodes which means that the show will be on air with me as an anchor till July, 2001. I cannot say whether I will take up anything else after KBC or not.

What do you feel about Abhishek's debut film Refugee?
I watched Refugee a little earlier before its release. I liked the film and the concept of the story. Mr Dutta is a brilliant director. As far as Abhishek is concerned, I think he was okay but has to learn a lot more. But he is improving with each and every picture. Experience counts in this trade. He has improved a lot in 'Dhai Akshar Prem Ka'. I liked the movie but the unfortunately the audiance thought otherwise.

Do you guide your son in choosing films?
Abhishek has studied abroad in his early childhood. He has not grown up in a typical filmy atmosphere. When he came back to India about three years ago he told us that he wanted to be an actor. Till then he did not know anything about films. As he does not know the ropes, it is my duty to guide him whenever he seeks my advice.

All his films have not done well at the box-office, especially his debut film 'Refugee' which had the hit director J.P.Dutta at the helm. Any Comments?
It's wrong to compare Mr Dutta's earlier film Border with Refugee. According to my knowledge, the film has done well and it had taken a great initial. The expectations from the film were too high. As the film launched Abhishek and Kareena who are star son and star daughter respectively, and as Mr Dutta's last film Border was a huge hit, the expectations were too high and that perhaps has affected the performance of the film. A person or his talent cannot be judged by just one film or two.

Could you tell us something about AB Corp's current liabilities?

I had gone wrong in certain calculations. The equations of Bollywood and that of corporate companies are totally different. Once bitten twice shy. I am now extra cautious in this matter. I have already repaid 90% of the debt and just DoorDarshan's liability of about 10 crores is remaining. I am determened to start afresh and concentrate only on the core areas which I have little bit of expertise.

But it is said that you have accepted to host KBC only to get over these problems?
I cannot do anything about what people think and feel. Everybody has the right to have his or her own opinion. I cannot change it by merely accepting or denying anything. But the show has helped me get back in the reckoning or else I was planning to just fade away from public memory.

What about the charge that you are not playing your age in films?
I am playing more than my age in 'Mohabaatein'. I hope you have seen the film. I am doing what the makers want me to do. There is not much choice in our set-up. I am trying to reinvent and innovate in whatever little possibilities are available in the kind of set-up we have. Sometimes you are not playing your age but the film does extremely well at the box-office. At others, even a taut script, character that suits your age and flawless performances cannot salvage a film. The whole business is very unpredictable. I enjoy acting that is why I am here.

[Next] The Bachchans are back in full form

Amitabh bachchan


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