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    It was terrifying to share screen space with dad: Abhishek

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Monday, April 04, 2005
    Ram Gopal Varma says he''s a better actor than father Amitabh Bachchan -- something Abhishek, who claims to be Bachchan senior''s biggest fan, refuses to believe.

    "I know Ram is a huge fan of dad. He just wants me to have the courage to face the camera with dad," says Abhishek, dismissing the comment from the director who is making "Sarkar" with the father-son duo.

    "Initially, it was terrifying to share screen space with Amitabh Bachchan. I''m still nervous," Bachchan told IANS, adding that he is beginning to learn more and more from watching his dad perform before the camera.

    After a spate of flops punctuating his initial film career, Bachchan junior seems to have found his groove. The coming year sees Abhishek in a range of films.

    There is "Bunty Aur Babli" with father Amitabh and Rani Mukherjee, Anubhav Sinha''''s "Dus", Rituparno Ghosh''''s "Antar Mahal" in Bengali, Ram Gopal Varma''''s "Sarkar", Sanjay Gadhvi''''s "Dhoom 2" and an as yet-untitled Karan Johar film.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    The awards season seems to have been wonderful to you?

    And it feels wonderful! Recognition always rocks.

    But I still refuse to believe that my performance in "Yuva" was better than the others in the category, especially dad's.

    You certainly did deserve recognition for "Yuva".

    I look upon the awards as the recognition for what I did in "Yuva". Awards do matter.

    But again, it doesn't mean Akshay in "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" or Zayed in "Main Hoon Na" weren't equally good.

    What prompted you to take your father onstage to receive your Filmfare award?

    No matter how much you prepare for the moment when the award is announced, your mind goes blank. I've practiced my thank you speeches in front of the mirror from the time I was a child.

    When I saw my dad's name in the nominations, I knew he deserved it. Besides being his son, I'm his biggest fan. And I refuse to believe anyone can be better than him. I think the award was rightfully his.

    I took my father to stage because I thought that was the right thing to do. More than being happy to win the award, I was happy that my mom and dad were there to share that moment with me.

    How do you feel when Ram Gopal Varma says you're a better actor than your dad?

    Aw! I think Ramu is just trying to encourage me. He wants to boost my confidence.

    Ramu is a huge fan of dad and he just wants me to have the courage to face the camera with dad.

    Initially, it was terrifying to share screen space with Amitabh Bachchan. I'm still nervous. But now I'm enjoying the experience far more than when we started.

    Earlier, we'd reach for the shooting for "Bunty Aur Babli" or "Sarkar" together. What followed in front of the camera was definitely not fun.

    You mean you felt inadequate?

    Yes, of course! But now, I look forward to learning from him. Just his sheer knowledge of the craft is awesome. Just the fact that I have the liberty to walk up to him and ask for help in doing a shot, is very, very liberating.

    I like the fact that I have both the actor Amitabh Bachchan and my father in the same frame as me. As a bonus, I get to spend the entire day with both.

    Is it a learning process for you?

    Just watching him at work is revealing in itself.

    By watching him, I've realised what a bad actor I am. When you see him do a shot, you immediately know there's no way you can be as good as him.

    Maybe it isn't possible for any actor to be better?

    No way. Just forget about it. There's no way one can come even close to this man's performance.

    So you're enjoying sparring histrionics with the mighty Bachchan?

    I don't think I can spar with Pa. I just get the opportunity to stand in the same ring as him and he allows you to have some fun.

    But he's a very generous co-star.

    Immensely; by far, the most generous co-star I've worked with. For me, co-starring with him is the most exciting happening of the year and my career so far.

    Next release?

    "Bunty Aur Babli" with dad and Rani. You just have to wait and see what we've done in it.

    Then I've Anubhav Sinha's "Dus", Rituparno Ghosh's "Antar Mahal" in Bengali, and Ramu's Sarkar. Later, during the year I start Sanjay Gadhvi's "Dhoom 2" and a Karan Johar film.

    Actually "Antar Mahal" is your second Bengali film?

    Yes, I did "Des" where I played my own mom's son. But in neither "Des" now "Antar Mahal" did I have to speak any Bengali.

    "Antar Mahal" was a great experience. Just 15 days' work and creatively very satisfying. Actually, I've quite a spectrum of directors coming up this year. I'd like to believe I'm growing and improving with every film I do.

    What about fun off-camera?

    The most exciting part of my life is the shooting. I love the idea of just doing so many films with so many directors.


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