Amitabh Bachchan on ‘Wazir’, Playing Pranks and His Snapchat Debut
Amitabh Bachchan tells us about his wheelchair character, the changing cinema & if he’s debuting on Snapchat!
As I pass the corridors of an opulent hotel in Juhu, Mumbai to interview ‘the’ Amitabh Bachchan, I keep myself busy with a few amusing thoughts. Like, what would he be wearing, what shade of grey is his hair, is he going to be as witty as he appears to be on talk shows?
Soon in front of me is seated the man himself in a well-starched, white kurta. On his left shoulder is placed a rich, Kashmiri shawl which boasts intricate embroidery and all that really meets the eye beyond the exterior is the poise that Bachchan so naturally emanates.
The actor passes a soft smile and I return it in equal measure and then, we are ready for the rendezvous. It’s only fair to begin with a New Year question, isn’t it?
Q: The New Year is welcomed with many a resolution. So, what is yours?
Amitabh Bachchan: (Before I’d finished, he was ready with his answer) Why make a resolution? I don’t believe in making one. If I have to do something, I’ll do it now. Why wait for the 1st of January.
Q: If I’m not mistaken then Vidhu Vinod Chopra wanted to make Wazir long back in English, right?
Amitabh: Yes, it was called Chess Players and he narrated the idea to me almost 15 years ago. It was supposed to be made in English but that didn’t materialise and now he’s making a Hindi version. I wouldn’t mind doing it in English either but for now it’s going to be only in Hindi.
Q: So, what does Wazir base itself on?
Amitabh: There are two prime characters. One is Danish Ali and that’s being played by Farhan Akhtar. He’s an ATS officer (in the police) and there is Omkar Nath Dhar who is a Kashmiri pundit living in Delhi. They are two different individuals yet with a certain commonality; they understand that at the core, their issues are similar. The film shows how they come together through a peculiar process which you’ll see in the movie to fight the problems together.
Q: You’re on a wheelchair in this movie. How did you slip into this challenging character that you had to play?
Amitabh: I don’t slip at all, ma’am. (His humorous streak is emerging) I just plonked myself on the wheelchair! (Laughs) Okay, honestly, if someone narrates a story or an idea to me, then if I like it, I just go ahead and do it. There’s no further thinking involved. Yeah, there was a wheelchair but most actors look for a prop to assist them and this was a wonderful prop. It was tricky initially to understand its working, which by no means is easy but then you slowly get more comfortable.
Q: One chess piece that you’d equate your character with in Wazir?
Amitabh: A very intelligent question but I won’t give you an answer. (Laughs again) That’s because then I’ll give away the story but, it will be interesting to see if you can watch the movie and understand what piece I played and realise why I made the moves that I did in the film portraying that part.
Fun with Farhan, Aditi & Nawaz
Q: Aditi Rao Hydari said that you played pranks on the set by bumping into people with the wheelchair. The prop really did come handy then?
Amitabh: That’s what she said? I’ll need to talk to her. Just joking. Let me tell you what it was really like. (Smiles) The control panel of the wheelchair is almost like a joystick, something I wasn’t very familiar with. So, I’m just going to say that I missed my mark like a kid would. (We know exactly what you mean here.)
Q: Farhan bonded with you over Deewar and even otherwise, is what we’ve been told. How was your experience working with him in the capacity of an actor?
Amitabh: Javed and I have been working together for many years. So, there are undoubtedly many stories to share. And yes, as a director he is different while as a co-actor he is a new person. That’s a great quality to have and there are very few people who can do that, all credit to him. He’s quite talented because he is also a musician and a writer.
Q: Nawaz is your admirer...
Amitabh: (Stops to interrupt me and says...) No, it’s the other way around. I’m an admirer of his work. He played a small part in this film I did with Shoojit, Shoe Bite (shelved). I was so amazed with what I saw, he’s so talented that I was astonished. In fact, I told Shoojit that why don’t you give him something big to do. Now I’m working with him in TE3N, which is a great honour for me.
Projects and More
Q: Wazir, Piku, Shamitabh: different characters altogether. How does it compare to the roles you did when you were termed as the ‘angry young man’?
Amitabh: It’s actually great to be able to play these versatile characters because in my earlier days, at best I fought a villain and then got the girl. That was my life in every film, unlike now. I’m on a wheelchair, I played a 13-year-old kid, a mad guy in Shamitabh...so many character-oriented roles.
Q: We heard that you’re going to be a part of Robot 2.
Amitabh: No, in fact, he’d come to me for the first one. I was asked to play the villain so, I called Rajni but he said, “Sir, people won’t accept you as a villain.” So, I said okay, this film can’t happen. (Smiles)
Q: What do you think of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s work?
Amitabh: He has an eye which is unbelievable, every frame of his is a painting. I enjoy his work too much.
Q: Why haven’t we seen you work with him after Black?
Amitabh: That’s his problem, not mine. (Laughs)
More Social Media Presence?
Q: Any new social media platforms that you’ll join like Periscope or Snapchat?
Amitabh: Slapchat, what’s that. (I tell him, it’s Snapchat) Oh. I don’t mind. I haven’t heard about these but if someone brings something to me, I don’t mind exploring it. I’ll see what they’re like. (Imagine Amitabh on Snapchat soon!)
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