His performance in Bol Bachchan did all the talking, and both critics and the audience are raving about him. The icing on the cake? Everyone associated with the film is laughing all the way to the bank. Here’s the man in news, and for all the right reasons. Abhishek Bachchan in conversation with Vajir Singh
Are you happy?
Yes, very happy.
Because of the compliments or the business of the film?
I have never understood business. I keep asking Ajay (Devgn) what is good and what is not. For an actor, there is nothing bigger than the fact that your film is doing well and the audience likes it. Andif you’re an industry kid, you want the industry to earn from the films you do.I wouldn’t want to be part of a film that doesn’t earn money for the industry. AndAjay tells me that not only do people lovethe film, it is also earning money, which is the whole purpose of making a film.
Money in the bank means more movies will be made, right?
Regardless of whether it’s the industry or the audience, there should be smiles all around. What’s the point of making a film which is so expensive that it cannot recover its investment?
Did you expect this film to be this successful?
We hoped it would be. No one can predict these things. But we hoped it would do well. I never dreamt it would be such a success.
Are you happy or surprised?
I am happily surprised.
Now that the film has been declared a success, what do you have to say?
It’s too early to say. People are asking me what I plan to do next and I say,nothing. In fact, I am going to work even harder on my next release. You shouldnot rest on your laurels and take thingsfor granted.
There is also this thing about films working or not working from one Friday to the next?
You will win on some Fridays and lose on some Fridays. The greatest thing about this industry is that there will always be another Friday. You have to keep working harder.
You have seen many good Fridays and many bad Fridays. How do you deal with that?
It’s not your decision to make. It is the audience’ decision and you have to respect that. At the end of the day, whatthe audience decides is cast in stone.You have to listen to what they have tosay and move on.
Rohit Shetty is being compared to directors like Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra, who are known to have made true entertainers. Since you have worked with Shetty twice and grown up watching your father working with Desai and Mehra, what is your take on Shetty?
I think Rohit’s focus on the audience is brilliant because he knows who he is making a film for. And when you knowthat and you don’t waiver in that conviction, you’re always going to get it right. He is so very sure about how he wants to make a film and who he wants to makethe film for, and I think that is an unbelievable quality to have. That coupled with his work ethics, which are outstanding. He is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. If you’re going to be grounded and humble and know who you’re making a film for, there’s only a small chance that you can go wrong.
Ajay and Rohit, both consider you as their younger brother. How important is it to have that equation with a co-star and the director?
That’s very important. Among the many reactions to the film is that you can see the camaraderie between the actors.You can see that because the actors are genuinely comfortable with each other.I have always said that when you work with an actor like Ajay, he makes you feel comfortable. He is a very secure actor and you never think, “Arrey, my role is going to get chopped off.” He knows heis a huge star and yet he understands that in certain scenes, he may have totake the backseat. And he does that gladly as he sees the bigger picture.
Is that why you have more screen time in Bol Bachchan than Ajay Devgn does?
No, I don’t think so. Screen time doesn’t mean anything. What’s important is what the roles are all about. He was the one,who called me and said, ‘’You are doing this film.’ And I said, ok. We are that close. When he says this is the film wehave to do, I know he will take care ofme.
Sometimes, a great relationship between actors and directors can go haywire?
No, I don’t think so at all. I don’t know about others but when there is immense faith in a team, it remains. Problems startthe minute you start doubting each other.Not once did Ajay, Rohit or I doubt each other’s intentions.
Why was an item song included in the film?
Ask Rohit, it was his idea.
Rohit Shetty said in an interview to BOX OFFICE INDIA that you’re like ayounger brother to him and he owes the film’s success to you?
No, I have asked Rohit not to make such statements. He doesn’t owe me anything.I owe him everything.
What do you have to say about the Rs100-crore club?
Yeh club kahan hai? Dikha do. Roz shamwahan baith ke coffee piyenge. I don’tbelieve in such clubs.
It’s become a benchmark for performances, especially if it is a film by Rohit Shetty and stars Ajay Devgn and you. From the very beginning, it was said that Bol Bachchan would be a Rs100-crore film. Why this perception?
I think this Rs 100-crore mark has simply replaced the silver jubilee. Aaj kal, you rarely get a film that celebrates a silverjubilee.
Today, it’s more about numbers?
I think the number has replaced the number of weeks a film runs.
Why is it that?
Because of you trade gurus and the fact that you guys are very good at your jobs. You trade pundits are very good at releasing trade figures. That’s why the audience talks about it.
Besides the ‘Rs 100-crore’ tag, you also wear an ‘item boy’ tag?
I was the first item boy, na? I did One love long ago in the film Rakht. It was the first item song that featured a guy.
But here you did something different?
Ya, it was the fun quotient. Trust me, Rohit said, ‘Besharm ban jao. Don’t have any doubts, just go all out.’ It rhymes too! He told me if I held anything back, it would not work.
Was it choreographed?
Yes, it was partly choreographed andpartly free-wheeling.
What’s happening at AB Corp?
Right now, we are only scripting.
R Balki’s film?
Will it feature you?
We will decide whom to cast when the scripting is done.
Are you going to accept fewer projects?
I like doing one film at a time,release it and then move on to the nextproject.
Is that the right thing to do?
I think so. Today, the demands on leading artistes are a lot more and I want tobe a hundred percent available to my producer and director. You can’t say,‘Shooting khatam ho gayi toh we will move on to another film.’ You have tobe available for post-production. Youhave to be there for dubbing. You can’t just come for an hour at night, dub and leave. If the director and producer want your inputs, you have to be there. Evenif the creative team wants your attention,you have to be able to give them your time with some patchwork. Then you have the marketing and the promotion of your film. And promotion does not stop with the release.
What is the biggest compliment you have received since the release of Bol Bachchan?
I think the biggest compliment is that my film is doing well. It’s what all actors want to hear, isn’t it?