INTERVIEW | AMITABH BACHCHAN
An affair to remember
Posted online: Friday, March 02, 2007 at 0000 hours IST
Amitabh Bachchan breaks free of his politically “propah” image with
Ram Gopal Varma’s Nishabd and romances a nubile Jiya with a never-
He’s changing but are we ready for it ? Is he unleashing a shock
wave with his new avtaar ? Screen probes. . .
Critics are saying that Nishabd will be rolling on thin ice, thanks
to its controversial subject. What are your thoughts?
Nishabd presents a very different face of Indian cinema. It strays
away from the main stream trends and tells an unorthodox tale. As
everyone knows by now, it is the story of a 60 year old man and 18
year old girl going through the motions of being in love. The film
is not an average love story where in one person falls in love with
the other and they express their sensuality. The story rises above
that cliche and addresses a different issue. It dwells into the mind
of a 60 year old man, who impulsively develops a liking for a girl
of his daughter’s age. The film shows you the storm that creates
havoc in a man’s mind, when he is caught between the plight of
heeding to his own feelings and in doing so, breaking the morals of
society. It puts forth a hypothetical situation where the audiences
can analyse and not judge a man caught up in an emotional tangle.
So how did such an idea of contemporary issue strike you? Was Ram
Gopal Varma planning about it for a long time?
Nishabd happened by chance. Ram Gopal Varma had come up to my house
to discuss Gabbar Singh’s look for his upcoming film Sholay. It was
then that we forayed into a general conversation about life and
love. Ram Gopal Varma said that he had a very compelling story in
mind and that it would make a very good film. Surprisingly his
narration only lasted for five minutes, but once he concluded I
realized I had been driven into my chair and I was Nishabd.
Obviously the only answer that I could give him was “When do we
Do you think Indian audiences are ready to wake up to such bold
subjects commercial cinema?
Be it Indian or global, cinema is still an art form. Art comes from
creativity and creativity comes from imagination. When you imagine
something, you initiate a thought on which you later on build and
produce a piece of artistic brilliance. In Nishabd the creativity
lies within its complex nature. Although the film’s first look might
suggest of it being offensive and unappealing, in reality, it
presents a very unique idea. It brings the audiences at a crossroad
of culture, morals, feelings and emotions. Naturally, a film that
talks about complex human emotions and character can be
misunderstood. But the bottom line is the film does not preach or
defend. It simply portrays a complex situation.
Sarkar got you and Ram Gopal Varma a lot of critical acclaim. With
Sholay already rolling ahead at a fast pace, you have managed to
squeeze in Nishabd as well. How has it been working with Ram Gopal
Working with Ram Gopal Varma is always special. He has such a wealth
of talent and the kind of concepts he comes up with are very
intriguing. Every single story and every single script brings a
challenge as an actor and there’s no way you can stay away from
working with him.
You worked with newcomer Jiya Khan for the first time in Nishabd,
but your on screen chemistry translates very well in the films
promos. How was the experience of working with her as your co-star?
Jiya Khan is a tremendous new talent and I really enjoyed working
Were there moments during the shoot when she got blue and you had to
take her under your wing to mentor her and teach her the ways of
being a good actor?
Jiya was never nervous. Amazingly, she is very talented and
confident. Although there were times when I did mentor her, but
never was there an instance where I felt I was working with a
rookie. She is a thorough professional and a very good actor to say
the least. Although she is a newcomer, she’s done complete justice
to her role and passed her first test with flying colours.
How long did it take for the movie to be shot?
Making Nishabd was quite a fast-paced affair. As soon as I gave the
film a nod, Ram Gopal Varma was ready to shoot in less than a few
days. Our entire team was on location filming and 25 odd days later
our start to finish schedule had concluded and we were back home
waiting for the editing team to work its magic.
Start-to-finish schedules are a new trend. What are your views on
this new approach to making movies at a go?
Start-to-finish schedules are a part of the new wave of contemporary
cinema. It is very different from the traditional practice of fixing
dates and schedules. It’s biggest advantage being, that it allows
for the entire team to stay focused towards a singular goal. As an
actor you are able to dwell into your character with more intensity
and maintaining continuity becomes a lot easier. I really hope this
trend becomes more popular because it really makes film making an
You have sung the song Rozana yourself and it’s making waves. How
did the song come about?
The entire credit of Rozana goes to Vishal Bharadwaj. It is really
nice to see the song has become so popular because it started off
with some jitters. I was not hugely enthusiastic of singing the song
myself but Vishal insisted I do so. After all his relentless
coaxing, I did go through and I must applaud his foresight and
How has your better half reacted to seeing you with an 18 year old
She has not seen the film.
So what sort of reactions are you expecting from Jaya Bachchan once
she sees the film?
I don’t know. The film is going to release soon and as soon as it
hits the theatres and she’s seen it we’ll all know what she thinks
Would you call doing Nishabd, in light of a contemporary subject as
a calculated gamble?
Not at all. Infact, it can be called experimentation. Cinema is as
professional in terms of technology and research as any other
professional field. Moving away from mainstream cinema allows
contemporary cinema to grow. It opens up new avenues of creative
concepts and eliminates clichÃ©d ideas. Creative ventures like
Nishabd break the shackles of main stream trends in Indian cinema
and give it a fresh new look.
You have grown out of the label of an angry young man and have
become one of the most versatile actors in Indian cinema ever. Your
roles have ranged from Vijay Deenanth Chauhan to Sarkar to Sexy Sam
and now to a 60 year old man in love. Are you able to relate to any
of these roles that you portray them with such brilliance?
Acting is what I do for a living and it is what I do best, so if I
am playing Sexy Sam, Sarkar, Gabbar Singh or a 60 year old man in
love, I don’t do it because I can personally relate to any of those
characters. I do it because I think these characters provide me with
a chance to explore my capabilities as an actor. And as an actor you
constantly need to try new things to understand your own strengths