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    I won't be compassionate to you Mr Bhatt: Amitabh

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Tuesday, August 24, 2004
    I won''t be compassionate to you Mr Bhatt: Amitabh

    By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

    Mumbai, Aug 23 (IANS) India''s biggest star Amitabh Bachchan has taken some hard decisions about his movie career and his "public attitude" - no more "inconsequential" roles and no more of people taking advantage of his dignified silence.

    Amitabh has reacted sharply to director Mahesh Bhatt''s statement that the star''s close friend, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, should be more compassionate.

    Flaring up uncharacteristically, he says: "We''ve no compassion to spare for him. I''d rather spare it for poor starving farmers of Andhra Pradesh, polio and dowry victims. They need it much more.

    "I won''t be compassionate to you, Mr Bhatt! I''m tired of people taking advantage of what has come to be known as my dignified silence. No more standing at the middle of the road waiting for any passer-by to pelt a stone. Ab bahut ho gaya. (Enough is enough)."

    Lashing out further, Amitabh tells IANS:
    "I've realized if you keep quiet, people rub your head in the mud. If I make a mistake I'd be the first to admit it. But if you exploit my name I won't stand for it. As you can see I've taken some hard decisions about my attitude to my career and public attitude."
    On the career front, India's mega star has taken a decision - no more side roles after public resentment at the size of his role in films like "Lakshya".
    He's gone and signed on a whole crop of new films, with a mixed variety of old and new directors, but no more minuscule roles please.
    "I don't think I'll do inconsequential roles any longer. In my last release 'Kyun Ho Gaya Na', I may not be there throughout but I've a role substantial enough to make sure audiences don't feel cheated. I've realized people feel cheated when they don't see me enough on screen. I get regular SMS messages warning me against inconsequential roles. There's a huge resentment about the length of my roles in some recent films. I need to be more respectful to that sentiment. Apparently, people want to see a substantial amount of me. God bless them. And god bless Ravi Chopra for giving me 'Baghban'."
    The experience of working with the indomitable Sanjay Leela Bhansali has changed the Big B's perception of his own talents. "Working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali has rejuvenated me as an actor. When I saw the rushes of 'Black' recently, I couldn't sleep in the night. I was haunted by the images. After 'Black' he must work with me again. There're times on the sets when I complete a sentence that he starts. We must do something again, and very quickly. Maybe we should do a comedy together. Sanjay has a great sense of the comic."
    The new assignments are being chosen very carefully. There's Ravi Chopra's "Babul" about a father-in-law who rehabilitates his own widowed daughter-in-law. In AB Corp Ltd's "Viruddh", Mahesh Manjrekar directs AB and Sharmila Tagore for the first time as an old couple battling a tragic occurrence in their well-ordered life. In Ram Gopal Varma's "Sarkar", he plays Marlon Brando's part in "The Godfather".
    "Obviously I'd be inspired by Brando. But I won't imitate him. We now wait for Ramu to shoot from Sept 1. Abhishek and I are there together. The rest of the cast is yet to be finalized. I'm doing Romesh Sharma's next film, a family story about the migration of Indians to Mauritius, where he's launching his son as a hero. Romesh is a very dear family friend. Anything for him."
    Then in Rituparno Ghosh's film, Amitabh stars as a father whose genius overshadows his own son. Shabana Azmi plays the wife while director Farhan Akhtar is being roped in for the son's role.
    "It's quite an unusual cast," he admits. "But I'm looking forward to working with all these people. Ritu is very good. Shabana and I were together in 'Main Azaad Hoon'. She's a brilliant actress. And having worked with Farhan as a director I know what he's capable of. Unlike his colleagues he dared to go from a safe genre like 'Dil Chahta Hai' to totally untried territory in 'Lakshya'. Hats off to him for that."

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