Being Bachchan

Being Bachchan

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Being Bachchan

angry young man Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap’.

Ever since Amitabh Bachchan resurrected his career a decade ago with Mohabbatein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, his fans were missing the hardcore action, something he was known for in the ‘70s and ‘80s. A few grey or negative turns like Kaante, Aankhen, Ek Ajnabee, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag and the two films in which he played Sarkar, were not as iconic as his roles in films like Zanjeer, Deewar, Trishul and Kaala Patthar among other films. In his second innings as an actor in Hindi cinema, more often than not, Amitabh Bachchan was the submissive or strict parent and even played unusual roles, including that of a ghost, a genie, a trainer to a deaf-mute, an old man in love with younger women (Nishabd, Cheeni Kum) and a 13-year-old progeria patient in his home production, Paa.

Commercial fare

It is with his new film, AB Corp’s Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap, that Amitabh Bachchan finally returns to his core strength — action and ‘dialoguebaazi’. “Besides my fans, I think I was also missing doing what I did in the ‘70s and ‘80s. So when Puri Jagannadh came to me with Bbuddah’s script, I immediately decided to do the film and we — Abhishek and AB Corp — also told him that we will produce it,” says Bachchan.

“The film is a light-hearted, escapist commercial fare about a reformed criminal who lives abroad and is back in India to complete an unfinished mission.”

Bachchan does concede, however, that this phase in his career has offered him more opportunities to explore his talent. “During the initial stages of my career, I had to look good and beat up the bad guys. But now, I am glad that a variety of characters and scripts are coming my way,” he beams. “I am close to 70 and I am fortunate that people still want to see me act; directors like R Balki are offering me challenging roles,” he adds.
Bbuddah also holds the record for a big-cast motion picture (it stars Hema Malini, Raveena Tandon, Sonu Sood, Prakash Raj, Sonal Chauhan and South Indian actress Charmy) to have been completed in a few months. Announced in late March 2011, it is scheduled to release on July 1. “Puri, like most of the filmmakers from South, was incredibly well-planned and we completed the shoot in 45 days,” says Bachchan. “I believe in making films with a tight, controlled budget. Paa cost us Rs 14.75 crore. We have shot Bbuddah in just Rs 10 crore. As for the satellite rights, they have been sold for Rs 13.5 crore.”

Puri is the man who has directed films like Pokkiri, the Telugu hit that was remade as Wanted. “Puri wanted me to have a flamboyant look as I play an arrogant man with an attitude, and he suggested his dress designer Leepakshi Ellawadi to create my look for Bbuddah,” says the mega-star, who was extremely excited to ride a Harley-Davidson in the film. “I am not good with bikes,” he says. “But it’s an amazing feeling to have so much power under your control. It’s a different kind of rush!”

About the role he played in creating the music of Bbuddah, Bachchan says, “Abhishek and I frequently drop  by Vishal-Shekhar’s studio and experiment with music. We thought they were the right people to do our film. We finalised the music of the film in just three days! Somehow, Vishal-Shekhar convinced me into singing three tracks, one of which is a duet with Abhishek Bachchan (he is not a part of the film), one is a medley of four of my older hits, and the third one is a capella track that is being done for the first time in a Hindi movie. It’s a form of music, I am told, which has been used only once in India (a Marathi film).” Bachchan says that for such a track, even the sound of the orchestra is created by the singer. “I first made sounds of a guitar and of a few more instruments. Then they processed each sound with a software, took it to the desired pitch, and eventually, put it all together.”

Frank and forthright

Showing his bewildered admiration for technology, Bachchan goes on, “Earlier, I remember that an entire song was recorded with 100 musicians in a large studio and the song had to be redone even if a single violinist made a mistake. Now, recording studios are small rooms, and musicians and singers have strong aids in the form of software that can change a singer’s scale and rectify the pitch as well. Moreover, voices of non-singers like me also can be enhanced in different ways.”

We ask if he has written or has plans to write poetry. After all, he is the son of the legendary poet, Harivanshrai Bachchan. “Not at all!” he says promptly. “But I love being a part of reading sessions of my father’s work. Recently, while shooting for Aarakshan on a college campus, I would have occasional recitations scheduled in the evenings and the response was great. In fact, I am amazed that even foreigners adore and admire my father’s work.” He reminisces, “I was reciting my father’s poetry in Paris to a packed audience of which 75 per cent were French. The French translation that ran as sub-titles on a screen was done by a French professor who teaches Hindi in Paris. I was overwhelmed! He knew and spoke better Hindi than I did.”

Bachchan is all set to do Kaun Banega Croreparti Season 5 that will take off in August. “It’s my fourth season and obviously, it is not as tough as it was the first time,” he smiles. “I am very happy that through such shows, people from small towns in India have an opportunity to appear on television and change their lives.”

Bachchan’s love affair with social media forums seems to be growing stronger by the day. He is an avid blogger and regularly tweets on Twitter. “Till date, I have blogged for 1,150 days without a break.  Also, when I was introduced to Twitter, I was stunned by the fact that my first tweet got 40 or 50 responses within seconds! It’s very enlightening to know what people think about you and how they react to your views. I have also just started using a voice blog, which has 27 lakh subscribers.”

From being a near-recluse in the ‘70s to getting intimately close to his fans, Amitabh Bachchan, the superstar, has undergone a huge change. A living legend indeed.

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