He gave a brilliant performance in his debut movie 'Refujee' and became a star overnight. He may not have given a superduper hit but he is well on his way to superstardom. His acting is extra-ordinarily natural and smooth, he has got the charismatic looks of his father and he has the world of confidence in him. He has quite a few releases down the line this year. From the off-mainstream satire 'Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost', to his first hardcore actioner 'Zameen' (both with debutant directors), to the war epic 'LoC', to the soft-and-tender 'Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon', you will see a lot of Abhishek in 2003.
Excerpts from an interview with SeasonsIndia correspondent Sanyukta.
What are your criteria's before accepting any film?
Well, first and foremost the story should appeal to me. Secondly I have to make sure that I don't select roles that I cannot perform to the best of what is demanded. You know its tough to be Amitabh Bachchan's son. People expect a lot from you (smiles).
What is the difference between Abhishek today and the Abhishek who walked into the industry a two ago?
Well nothing much has really changed. I think my comfort levels with the film industry have increased. I am comfortable here. Only my approach towards the industry and the way I work has changed. I know today whether I am doing things right or wrong. I enjoy being here and doing what I am doing.
Does criticism bog you down?
Sure I feel bad. But I accept it. After all an actors work is appreciated by the public and it is they who rate him. Therefore I accept it constructively. I love my work. Call me a stiff actor or whatever, but if I can make one person smile, I've done my job. I can only keep trying different things. It's not easy to entertain the audience today.
How do your parents react to the criticism levelled at you?
I think the fact that they are both actors helps. Both of them know how important the criticism is for an actor. Besides, they don't take it personally or get upset about it when there is a bad review. They take it pretty well and are very encouraging.
Did you look at your father as an actor or as a superstar?
He has been my father first. Only then he is my hero. I have been his biggest fan. I will remain so. I have seen all his films. From the very beginning, he has made it transparent that work would not return home with him. He has been a normal parent at home. My parents were there for every PTA meeting, for every event, even if I was just a daffodil on stage. They spent every minute with us when they were not shooting. That was quality time. My sister Shweta and I never made him out the way others perceive him.
Now about your forthcoming releases. Looks like you have your kitty full.
I have few projects lined up for release, which are Apoorva Lakhia's Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost opposite Lara Dutta, Rohan Sippy's Kuch Na Kaho opposite Aishwarya Rai, Sooraj Barjatya's Main Hoon Prem Ki Deewani with Hrithik and Kareena, Boney Kapoor's Dil Ka Chor opposite Kareena. Then A B Corp will be producing Rakesh Mehra's topical drama dealing with India-Pakistan conflict and so will Vipul Shah who will be directing my dad and me. Mahesh Manjrekar's Kutumbh with dad again will start next year.
'Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost' is due to be released. Tell us something about it?
Well it is written and directed by Apoorva Lakhia and produced by Vishal Nihalani, the film tells an unusual story of how electricity is introduced in a remote village in Rajasthan, and how it changes the lives of the villagers. This film is extremely close to my heart. I hope it gets its due recognition. Everyone has put in his or her best. The atmosphere [during the making of the film] was very conducive to creativity. Once I was in costume and on the village sets in Jaisalmer [Rajasthan], I remained in character throughout. Apoorva's greatest asset is that he is always prepared. He knew every dialogue, shot and moment in his film beforehand. I never felt the need to try and dissuade him.
'Tera Jadoo..' was a love story; and so are 'Dhai Akshar..' and 'Kuch Na Kaho' and 'Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon'. You seem to be specialising in love stories inspite of your 'angry eyes' and 'action' lineage. When are you doing an action-based movie?
I think it is up to the audiences and to my directors to decide that. Though personally speaking, I would like to try all genres of films before I can pin myself down to a particular image that is 'me' or one that I would like to be tagged with. I cannot bully anyone to do a particular kind of film with me. I can do only the roles that are offered to me. Currently, I am working on a few projects which are action oriented and one of them is 'Zameen' which is totally action oriented, so lets see how it goes.
One last question, does the constant media intrusion in your life bother you?
Who says the media intrudes into my life? I don't let them. Sure, I am an actor -- a public figure. But what I do behind closed doors is my life and noone needs to know anything. They are after all doing their work -- writing about me. I am doing mine -- acting. Both of us are professionals. They don't know what's happening in my life. And the day I let them bother me will be the day they win!