How would you describe "Bunty Aur Babli" in one word?
Fun... Snazzy ...Everything happens in a small town. But the presentation is upmarket. The concept of two con-artistes with dreams is ingenious....I've a small but significant role. The age factor aids the actor. Because of my age, I can play all kinds of roles without bothering about my image and other repercussions. I'm repeatedly asked if I am not worried about over-exposure since I'm doing so many ads and films. Right now I'm just worried about exposure, not-exposure. I'm fortunate to be getting so many parts at my age.
Is the audience going to get a lot of you and Abhishek together in "Bunty Aur Babli"?
Well... Abhishek and Rani play con-artistes, and I play the cop chasing them. So the moment we come face-to-face, the story is over.
After "Black", they called you God. After seeing your "B & B" promos, they call you dude?
That's a perception created by the music video for "Bunty Aur Babli", where they made me do a rap song. But I'm neither God nor dude. I'm Amitabh Bachchan. I was so surprised by the response to the music video. It was a fantastic gambit that paid off. It was Aditya Chopra's brainchild. He walked in one morning and suggested I do it for the film's promotion. It was really scary and tough. But I somehow I got through it (sighs).
Why scary and tough?
At 63, I can't be singing rap songs, please! Doing a song-and-dance in a film is bad enough for me. But rap? It's difficult for a 63-year old guy to do it.
There're many semi-clad girls in the video. But we can't take our eyes off you.
That's because they're shorter. And the video was shot in a manner where I was more prominent. But they were all stunning women and stunning dancers from Shiamak Davar's troupe.
What did you think of your "Bunty-Babli" director Shaad Ali?
A very loving and compassionate human being. That shows in his work. His film is so different in attitude and sensibility. Look at his work and you know he has gathered his aesthetic values from his own childhood in Uttar Pradesh. There's a great deal of culture and aesthetics coming to him from both his parents. There's a lot of deliberate kitsch in "Bunty Aur Babli" but nothing jarring.
Our cinema has been busy looking at the ambitions of the metro-centric characters. How nice to go into the dreams of the small towners as colourfully and romantically! The visuals in "Bunty Aur Babli" are so fresh and appealing. Shaad has paid a tribute to the cinema of the 1960s and 1970s.
And your item song with Abhishek and Aishwarya?
It's an absolute delight. No one will watch me or Aishwarya in this song. They'll be looking only at Abhishek.
Are you sure?
One hundred percent. And I'll talk to you about this after the movie. In terms of attitude, scope and picturization ...everything... it is enormous.
Kaun Banega Crorepati is coming back!
Yes ! The promos have started. This time the stakes are higher. More prize money...It's 85 more episodes. It will start in August and run only over the weekends. It's just my completion of a contract, that's all.
Aren't you excited about it?
Of course! I hope everything that I do excites me. Certainly KBC was a turning point in my career. I was venturing into a different territory. There was the apprehension of the unknown. It got me into another level of my career. It also took care of many of my financial liability, helped put AB Corp Ltd back on its feet.
Tell me about your company's plans.
We've Rituparno Ghosh's "Antar Mahal" with Abhishek and Soha Ali Khan - it's been selected for the Locarno film festival. Then, there's Mahesh Manjrekar's "Viruddh" featuring Soha's mom Sharmila Tagore and me. It's about a crisis in a family. Then we have Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Family" with Akshay Kumar and me. Jaya is doing a small project with Shrabani Deodhar with Vinod Khanna as her co-star.
We also want to do television software. We're a very small and insignificant company. I'd rather make a small and quiet beginning.
Nothing can be small or quiet about you. According to a Times poll, 70 percent of the respondents voted you the biggest star of the country.
I don't know who votes for these polls. Though I respect the verdict, I wouldn't get carried away by it. But it's very humbling and flattering. One just moves along in life, takes on whatever challenges comes one's way and hope that it works. As my Dad said, "Ho jaye to achcha, na ho to aur achcha (It's good if it happens, so much the better if it doesn't)".
There are many people out there who'd disagree with your modest assessment of your stardom.
What can I say? I hope and pray they continue to disagree with me. And I hope I continue to do work that would make them vote for me in future.
Lataji thinks you're not only a great actor but also a good singer?
Aha! This is news! "Sur mein aaj kal koi nahin gaata hai (No one sings in tune these days)". She belongs to the era of the purest and most tuneful singing. What she thinks is good singing is produced by a machine. Lataji is being very very sweet and kind. But I know the truth.
Farhan Akhtar is remaking your 1970's blockbuster "Don".
Yes I'm aware of it. That's wonderful. It's a great compliment to the film and its writers Salim-Javed. Farhan will do a great job. He has the right sensibility to update the film and make it palatable to today's generation. And Shah Rukh is the perfect choice for my part.
But do you think such cult films can have the same impact again?
Most certainly. "Devdas" has been made four times. Story-wise I think "Don" was very viable commercially. The idea was so original and exciting. I value Jeetendra's opinion. He always chose rightly. When he heard "Don", he advised me to grab it.
Don will have your song "Khai ke paan Banaras wala".
Fantastic. Do you know it was an afterthought in "Don"? It came after the film was edited and complete. I remember I was doing action scenes on the day we shot the song. So I was dancing with blisters on my feet. I took painkiller injections before every shot in the song.