'I've no plans to retire'

Last Updated 26 January 2010, 12:45 IST

He gets up diligently and greets, welcoming you like a true gentleman who knows his manners. Suddenly, there is a beep sound on his mobile phone and immediately he attends to it, punching a fairly long message giving you some time to observe the phenomenon called Amitabh Bachchan.

Knitted brows somewhere between simple concern and irritation, thin face covered by thick frames and silvery French beard trimmed to perfection. “I’m sorry, but this is really contagious,” he apologises, keeping aside his mobile phone.

In the City to promote his new film Rann and to watch the movie Paa with the CM, Amitabh candidly speaks about his role. But when it comes to questions, with which he is uncomfortable, the actor in him masks the resentment well. No wonder, just the night before coming to Bangalore, he wrote on his blog: “It is an actor’s workshop – the art of handling the media”.

“I am playing the character of a television anchor — a man of standing and integrity — whose voice of truth is believed by the nation. Media is the conscience-keeper and those in it bear great responsibility. Yet my character has to compromise with his conscience in order to keep his business running.”

Setting out to skewer the electronic media for trivialising news, Amitabh’s character is said to be inspired by Prannoy Roy of NDTV, but he refutes, “Oh no, Ramu (Ramgopal Varma) was only inspired by Prannoy Roy. The film has nothing to do with him otherwise.”

Kannada actor Sudeep plays Amitabh’s son in Rann and the legend only had good things to say about him. “He is a wonderful artiste and I’m delighted to work with him. He has put in a lot of effort.”

Although his prolific career has been chequered with hits and misses, Amitabh’s personal life has remained consistently solid. He refuses to be drawn into any controversy be it relating to his family, friends or foes. His non-committal one liners reveal nothing about the thought-process churning inside him. When asked, what step will his wife Jaya Bachchan take now that their friend and ‘younger brother’ Amar Singh has severed ties with the Samajwadi Party, he simply says, “That will be her personal decision. I don’t advise her on such matters.”

But does he repent doing TV commercials for the Mulayam Singh Government; calling investors to UP saying it was ‘crime-free’ and ‘non-corrupt’, belying the truth?
“I don’t repent doing any advertisement for the UP Government. I am willing to promote any State if I’m asked to. I went to Gujarat recently and told the CM that I was willing to promote the State,” he justifies.
The mention of his son Abhishek brings back the smile on his face; he excitedly cuts in and says: “Bingo (new game show on Colors) is starting today. I’m Abhishek’s first guest on the show.”

But hasn’t Abhishek made his small screen entry a little early in his career? “Not at all. What is the right time for entering TV? When I signed Kaun Banega Crorepati, everyone said I was ruining my career but it was successful and now every other star is doing a TV show,” the protective father defends.
On his future plans, he shares, “Many TV channels have approached me. Talks are going on but nothing is final now. My movie Teenpatti will release shortly and I’m working in another film Johnny Mastana.”

Why did he never try experimenting with the roles when he was at the helm in Bollywood in 1980s? “But I’m doing it now. In movies like Cheeni Kum, Black, Nishabd, Bhootnath, Sarkar Raj and Paa, I’ve done varied roles,” he explains.
On whether he has any plans of retirement, he smiles, “None. I love to work. I shot non-stop for five films last May. I’m even open to doing regional films.”
When the going is good and roles are being written for you, who will want to retire?  

(Published 26 January 2010, 12:45 IST)

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