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My buddy Abhishek
Rohan Sippy | February 02, 2006 20:00 IST
I can't remember the very first time I met Abhishek. He's younger than I, and when he came in, he was one of the youngest kids in boarding school. Things were very different. He was a 'small boy', not towering over everyone as he is today! We didn't spend too much time together in school -- one tends to spend more time with batchmates. But, back in India, we connected very quickly. We got along very well because of alumni connections and old contacts. That helped. We became friends and work has just been helping the relationship.
As a person, Abhishek is very warmhearted. He's extremely upfront and clear about things in his head. This doesn't mean he's outspoken, but he certainly articulates his thoughts. He's very well spoken. We catch up whenever we can, and our friendship revolves around music, food and films.
We like all kinds of food, everything from paaya to pasta, and we keep exploring different places to eat out. In terms of music, there's all kinds of stuff, from modern acoustic to urban hip-hop, hindi music to Tamil, something he has exposed me to. There's an amazing range of tastes in our collection.
In terms of movies, again, there are no rules. Martin Scorsese is a big favourite for us both, and there are many others. Getting the time to watch films together is difficult though. We have our own commitments, and actors are obviously very busy. Even when Abhishek is in town, he's normally working 12-16 hours a day. So when we get some time to ourselves, we generally turn to music. Sit down and discuss what's new on our iPods. It is the best way to unwind.
In terms of an actor-director dynamic, it is a very comfortable relationship. We are very clear about what we want to do, and that helps us incorporate any improvisation on the sets. He makes sure there's a relaxed atmosphere on the sets. Everyone is bound to feel at home if the lead actor is helping them out. There's a lot of stress while shooting, so it's nice to have him come through and keep everyone relaxed. He's very comfortable improvising, and a lot of what we end up with is totally unplanned, but that has to be with the right actors, who understand the situation.
He is definitely a prankster on the sets, and is often fooling around. But I think that's mostly to keep the mood on the sets light. And to make sure he himself doesn't get too tightly wound up. So there is a practical side to his pranks and mayhem. He is actually a very reserved person. By which I mean he is someone who isn't loud or obnoxious. Coming from a family like he does, it's no surprise that he's a very dignified person, and he's also very laidback. He doesn't feel the need to project himself as anything or be louder. He's happy to step back. As a person and an actor, he's very secure in himself.
Abhishek has a lot of friends, from all over the place! He has tons of friends who are much older than he is, and he's got younger buddies as well. He's very sociable, and the important thing is that he makes an effort to keep old relationships active. He's still very close to his schoolfriends. Just recently, he came down for an old schoolfriend's wedding from a shoot, and spent two days there. His actions really show how much his friends mean to him, how invaluable they are.
As an actor, I think he has just started to get going. There's a lot more for him to do. He's only just beginning to move into high gear. He should keep going. He has worked with top directors like Mani Ratnam, I think he understands that himself. He's doing his own thing.
An actor or a star... These labels go hand in hand. As he gets more success at the box office, it will give him more independence to do the projects he wants. I don't think he's consciously assigning more importance to either critics or the box office. He's just doing his own thing. He genuinely enjoys getting up in the morning and going to work.
A dream birthday gift for Abhishek would be an iPod with all of the world's music in it. Every song ever. But in the size of a Nano.
Bluffmaster director Rohan Sippy and Abhishek Bachchan are extremely close friends.