*  AB's biggest hits
     and flops
   *  The changing faces of
     the phenomenon

My Father's Son
He's special, my father: Abhishek Bachchan

The AB Mystique

•  Siddharth Basu
•  Prakash Mehra
•  Shatrughan Sinha
•  Ramesh Sippy
•  Tinnu Anand
•  Salim Khan
•  Kader Khan

The Big Interview
•  Vir Sanghvi
•  Simi Garewal
•  Kiron Kher

AB at the box office
An analysis

The AB quotable quotes

AB, the women's man
•  Hema Malini
•  Neetu Singh
•  Shilpa Shetty
•  Raveena
•  Raakhee
•  Aruna Irani

The almost AB

•  Shekhar Suman
•  Sudesh Bhosle

Cyber AB
The web's best on AB

AB on!


    'His love affair with the masses will never wane!'

    Simi Garewal

    It was in 1998, in the first season of my show, Rendezvous With Simi Garewal, that I interviewed Amitabh Bachchan. It was a low period for him, he was getting a lot of criticism for ABCL, for the movies he had signed, and lots more besides.

    For many years, as I saw or read interviews done by various people with him, I thought to myself that no one had managed to find the Amitabh Bachchan that we know. Having been friends with him even before he began his career in the movies, I have watched his highs and lows with fascination, and I have tried to comprehend him.

    Thus, every interview I came across was disappointing, because to me, they failed to capture the persona of the man. The Amitabh Bachchan I knew was never the Amitabh Bachchan that I got to see in those interviews!

    I was dying to interview him and once he agreed, I did my homework well. I read his father Harivanshrai's book cover to cover -- each poem, each letter. I read every interview, every scrap of paper that I could find on him. This was my chance, and I wanted to do complete justice to the man, and to the audience. I wanted to capture the Amitji I knew -- the dry wit, the vivacious personality, the person who was fun to be with.

    ABOVE all, I wanted through the interview to convey a sense of the Amitabh I knew.

    In retrospect, what strikes me about the interview I did is how low he was on confidence, at the time. Today the tables have turned. He is blooming again. In that, he is like any actor, any star -- Amitabh blooms when showered with appreciation and praise. He is very self-effacing, and he accept compliments very gracefully.

    As a rule, I do not speak to my guests before the interviews. But this once, I went up to him and said, “Amitji, I want you to give this one hundred per cent, I want you to be completely honest." And he gave me that Amitabh Bachchan look and said, “I will give it one hundred per cent, I will be myself."

    He lived up to his word.

    We talked of everything under the sun. His childhood, adolescence, parents, ABCL, his flops, his return, his family, Jaya, the kids, the kind of women he likes, his professional decisions...

    I think he was completely honest. There are people who, after that interview, said, 'Amitabh Bachchan is not like that!' Or 'He was not telling the truth about Rekha!'

    But I believe he gave all of himself in that interview. Anyway, people only believe what they want to believe.

    Once Jaya came on to the sets, he was more comfortable, he was completely himself. Then the wisecracks began and the witty side of his personality began to emerge.

    We overshot both the episodes -- his solo and the one with Jaya -- by over 20 minutes!

    HE loves the studios, loves the cameras. He is absolutely in his element in there, and very comfortable with it.

    Having been around for so long, and faced tough questions, he has worked out little tricks to get himself out of tough spots. When he is not comfortable with a question, he waits it out, he gives the interviewer a long look, to fluster the person and get him or her to ask some other question. But if you can wait him out in your turn, then he will answer your question.

    I think this would rate amongst the top five interviews that I have ever done. And I do not remember any other interview anyone has done with Amitabh that brought out his personality so well -- and I am being fair, not biased. You have to remember also that he was on the defensive at that point in time, he never knew which interviewer he could trust.

    But what really amazes me is is the ongoing affair of the Indian people with Amitabh. It has been a continuous love affair, it has never waned. The Indian masses just love him!

    With his popularity skyrocketing again through Kaun Banega Crorepati, one gets to see another Amitabh, an Amitabh so full of confidence as to be almost incandescent. I think he has become more accessible, more open to talking about himself now, than he ever was before.

    Is there any one question I would like to ask him now? Well, no -- actually, I would like to do a whole interview with him, all over again.

    Simi Garewal spoke to Nidhi Taparia

    Tell us what you think of this article | Send this page to a friend