By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: After an imposter has made a video giving his recommendation for Narendra Modi, super star Amitabh Bachchan speaks to Subhash K Jha about his reaction:
Q: Amitji, an imposter made a video giving your recommendation for Narendra Mdi as a prime ministerial candidate. How do you fight such duplicity?
As public figures or those that fall in the category of celebrity, one must be prepared for such occurrences. They happen to us because we conveniently fall into the category of immediate notice. Once you understand that, it is then a matter of either rebuking it, or taken appropriate action. In this particular matter it is the infringement of copyright, and its misuse. I am not interested in its reason or purpose, I am against the manner of its defamatory misuse. Legal and police procedures are in place in the system, to activate action against such atrocities.
Q: Your latest film Satyagraha addressed itself to the need of the hour to clean our society of corruption. How far do you think cinema can be a tool of social reform?
Cinema is a powerful medium, it makes powerful impressions. Indian Cinema has always conformed to the practice of poetic justice within 3 hours. Wrong is punished, evil is destroyed, culprits are brought to book and many other social and moral factors that form a part of our living and culture, do get addressed. Creativity constructs what it finds itself surrounded by. An artist seeks inspiration or gets inspired by what he or she experiences about them and then puts it in artistic form. Cinema does the same. If there are elements in a product that are worthy of being capable of bringing social change, that would be an added achievement. A film is the vision of its maker ; his or her thought process. If during that process it also creates awareness, that is welcome and laudable. Whether a particular film is made with the sole intent of bringing social reform, is a question that needs to be put to the maker. As an artist, after I approve a commitment, I follow diligently the dictate of the director. But this is my personal conduct. There are many colleagues of mine that have very strong beliefs on the content they associate themselves with, and pursue their activism through the films or art forms they produce or are a part of. They are brave and I applaud them. I am not so brave and do not possess such strong activist sensibilities. I am human though and do undergo strong feelings and impressions. But I do not express them publicly. That is my right and prerogative as a free citizen. Democratic and constitutional principles as a free individual, give me other options too.
Q: A lot has been said about your role being inspired by Anna Hazare. What according to you was the the ideological base for your character?
During several interviews conducted for the promotional activities of the film, similar questions were asked of Prakash ji and his response was in the negative. There may be some moments that look similar, perhaps the portion of the fast unto death. But then how else would a public fast unto death look like visually ? I think the inspiration of the portion of the Satyagraha has been been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi rather than Anna Hazare. The form ‘satyagraha’ was Gandhi ji’s gift to a nation fighting for Independence. It has been inspirational and has been duplicated often. The story of “Satyagraha” as you may have noticed after seeing the film, is far from the questions being raised on Anna Hazare. Its a Father son story – a Father who has lost his son and a son in search of a father. It is about different perspectives they have, and it is about the meeting of their philosophies in creating a revolution which they believe to be just and warranted. The character of Dwarka, that I portray, is that of an idealist, one that is morally correct and believes that when right is denied despite its truth, it needs to be manifested in a silent non violent revolt.
Q: Your character aspires to be Gandhian. But is silent protest a remedy to the rampant corruption in modern India?
Peaceful silent and non-violent protest in accordance with democratic principles is what the film propagates. The film propagates that, because, the theme of the film believes that violence is not the right path to achieve that which is governed by truth.
Q: As an individual you’ve very clearly stated that politics is not your cup of tea.Would you ever be willing to change your mind if your are convinced the country needs you.
No .. I will not change my mind regarding politics. I will not go there again. But, I shall not shy away to serve the country in any other way it wishes me to.
Q: As an icon and a role model how important is it to you maintain a decorous, upright and infallible image in public?
I am neither an icon nor a role model. I am simply a very proud citizen of my country, and being so, shall always endeavour to remain decorous and upright. Image is a branded construct, it belongs not to me. Infallible I cannot say, for we are all human and will succumb to faults. But, if faulted, I shall follow what the constitution and the law of the land directs me to. I shall not, hopefully, deliberately seek fault, but if it occurs inadvertently, I shall and will be ready to face rightful procedural consequences. I shall not shy away from it.
Q: Satyagraha is your second film with Prakash jha. Can we expect a trilogy? Where do you place him in your distinguished gallery of directors?
That should be answered by Prakash ji. For me every director that I work with, is distinguished.
Q: Ajay Devgn and you have worked earlier in your home production Mayor Saab. How far in your opinion has he evolved as an actor?
Yes Ajay and I have worked in ‘Major Saab’ and other films too. The experience has been delightful. As actors we all hope and wish to improve and evolve with each new venture. Ajay is no different. He has been working in films that have offered him great diversity, and he has excelled in all of them.
Q: Amitji, this seems like a time for tremendous activity in Bollywood cinema.What do you feel about some of the films being made ? which films have impressed you the most in recent times?
Yes I would agree with you that Indian Cinema is going through a catharsis, a time of tremendous activity, in wanting to indulge in all kinds of fresh and new experimentation, and succeeding. Young and fresh talent, exceptional in their ability, emerges each Friday, to take our breathe away. The acceptability factor for a good product has been responsible in provoking many that are new to this field, with hope. That bodes extremely well for the Industry. Films, recently, like ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ ‘Vicky Donor’ ‘Kahani’ ‘Gangs of Waseypur’ ‘Lootera’ ‘Ranjhana’ ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ ‘D-Day’ ‘Madras Café’ ….and on… have been so impressive and a delight to watch …and I believe there are many more in the making. Along with this, has been the emergence of the popular cinema, creating revenue figures that were unheard of earlier. What a wonderful period we are all witnessing. And a maturing audience is the main reason for what we are observing each day.
Q: You start work on Sudhir Mishra’s film next. It brings together Rishi Kapoor and you after many years. How do you recall your association with Rishiji?
Rishi Kapoor or Chintu to me, has always been an excellent artist. There is great belief in what he does, says, enacts in front of the camera. Just that one quality makes him exceptional. Our films together have been immensely successful, and I do look forward to working with him again.
Q: Your career-making film Zanjeer has been re-made with Telugu star Ramcharan Teja in the lead. Do you feel Zanjeer or any of your classics should be re-made?
I cannot hold opinion on it. At times your involvement in a particular film propels you to think that they should remain untouched. And at times when you see the finished remake you appreciate its ingenuity. But the desire to remake does not rest with me. It is the decision of those that may or may not hold its remake rights. There are so many past examples that impress upon you – ‘Devdas’, ‘Mother India’ from ‘Aurat’, ‘Seven Samurai’ the Japanese to ‘Magnificent Seven’ in Hollywood and so on …Ramcharan Teja is a most accomplished star and I am certain, from the few rushes that have been shown to me, that he shall be doing a tremendous job.
Q: What are your other film projects, Amitji? When do you start work on Balki’s film?
There are a few : ‘Bhootnath 2’ Balki’s film which is being scheduled, Sudhir Mishra’s film now titled ‘Pehle Aaap, Janab !’ Sujoy Ghosh, Rumi Jaffrey, Anuraag Kashyap and a few others, which are still in the process of being finalised ..
Q: Meanwhile another season of KBC has started. What are the USPs this time?
Yes KBC has begun. We have already done few episodes on it. The format is the same of course – questions will be asked and correct answers shall be rewarded, but there have been some cosmetic changes. The set is a stunningly new product, away from the regular that has been seen before in each show. The winning amount has gone up to 7 crores, the lifelines have increased to 5, of which 4 can be used in an a novel interesting manner, the time given for response at various levels has gone up and the most important of all is that, the Fastest Finger First now has 3 right questions to answer, instead of 1, in the least amount of time cumulatively, to be invited to the Hot Seat …
Q: You are just months away from another birthday? How on earth do you manage to stay so charged about your work after so many years?
By avoiding answering such questions !!