Interviewing Amitabh Bachchan, one of the Indian film industry's most respected and talented actors, is a dream come true for any journalist. You need not only to be prepared for his highly-infectious sense of humour, but also his manic style of tackling the questions fired at him. DEVANSH PATEL lived the dream as he met the living legend in this exclusive two-part interview
AMITABH Bachchan could have retired long ago. He could have hung up his hat on his many awards, basked in the glow of movie history, and holed-up in his Mumbai bungalow above all the hustle and bustle of Bollywood.
But, luckily for us, he hasn't gone anywhere and, at 66, is at the top of his game.
In the last three years alone, he's worked with one of the industry's best-known directors, demonstrating a penchant for artistic evolution and experimentation. His latest film Bhoothnath, in which he plays a friendly ghost, is released on May 9.
But, as Bachchan tells me, and as the legend's colleagues and friends tell us, as much as his role choices and co-stars have changed, some things about the man tend to remain the same.
He loves to learn, is more anxious to promote his films than the distributors and producers, has to have tea and cookies while giving interviews and can't get enough of life's little pleasures.
So, while he adjusts his yellow tie and his trademark dark glasses, I have a last careful look at my questions which will be fired to Mr Bachchan - because you never know when you might get one fired back...
Q: B for B R Films, B for Baghban, B for Baabul, B for Bhoothnath, B for Bachchan and B for blog. The only thing I can say here is - to B or not to B?
A: (laughs). It's nice the way you've used the B in the question, but it's also a coincidence that happens to everyone in their life at some point or the other. I still haven't worked with B R Chopra as a director but look at destiny, I'm working with B R Films for that matter.
And now the entire media is talking about the blog which I've started, but then it wouldn't be possible without the help of the media. I hope my views and opinions are appreciated by one and all and, if not, they are free to express theirs.
Q: With so much going around - IIFA (International Indian Film Academy), Bhoothnath and Sarkar Raj next, you seem to be the busiest actor working. What are your stress levels like?
A: I don't understand why the media asks this question. I mean whatever I'm doing is my job. Today, if I'm given some responsibility, I'll make sure I fulfill it. Yes, my age does not permit me to do everything I want to, but I try and manage and adjust as per my convenience. And my stress level is normal at the moment.
Q: Adlabs distributed and marketed your earlier film Baabul, which grossed £960,000 and was one of the top 15 films ever in the UK box office out of 500 released. Now, with Eros International distributing Bhoothnath, do you think this film will touch a million pounds?
A: Well, we all know how capable Eros International are. And, with the stats which you've just mentioned of B R Films, I can't see why Bhoothnath can't do good business.
Q: You're playing a bhooth (ghost) in Bhoothnath and a genie in your forthcoming film Aladdin. Do such roles allow you to tap into the child within you?
A: We all have a child within ourselves and it does come out sometime and somewhere. So, if films like Bhoothnath and Aladdin, give me variety, it also gives me freedom to be jovial and interact with kids and, of course, as you just mentioned, to tap into the child within me.
Q: You'd normally associate a bhooth with Ramsay Brothers or Ram Gopal Varma. But Amol Palekar in Paheli and Vivek Sharma in Bhoothnath have given a completely new dimension to their bhooths. Any comments on this?
A: You're right. They have. But let's not forget that the Indian film industry needed a makeover and it came at the right time. Yes, there is a risk of films not doing well while you experiment with new ideas, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel too. The way Vivek has made this film, for once you will not be able to tell that Bhoothnath is made by a debutante.
Q: Why do you think the story of Bhoothnath will be relevant for people today?
A: Bhoothnath is just not another ghost story. It's a story of a little kid and a ghost who becomes friendly, their relationship and how, as it develops, they are able to sort out problems which are quite universal, like togetherness, family relations, respect for elders and so forth.
Q: Do you encourage your costars to take on your style and do you accept theirs when you're acting?
A: I have no style and I hope I don't, and I will never want to interfere in someone else's style.
Q: You mentioned on BBC Breakfast while promoting Bhoothnath that you refrain from using the word Bollywood. But do you mind when people use that word in front of you?
A: Yes, because it's detrimental. It's degrading. We are the Indian film industry - why give it a definatory terminology?