Sridevi: Amitabh Bachchan has an aura around him
As part of our celebrations of Amitabh Bachchan's 70th birthday on October 11, we spoke to heroines, who have shared a close rapport with him but have hardly spoken about it.
Sridevi, who recently shared screen space with Amitabh Bachchan in English Vinglish, has worked with him earlier in films like Khuda Gawah, Aakhree Raasta and Inquilaab.
It is always a wonderful experience working with Amitabh Bachchan. He makes you feel so comfortable and confident when you are shooting with him.
When I learnt he was doing a cameo in English Vinglish, I got really excited. The day we were going to shoot, the crew was so excited to see us together.
Shooting with him again was not difficult, as we had worked together.
He has spent more than four decades in the industry and his films speak for himself. The kind of roles he has taken up have been so challenging. It's amazing that he does them with such ease.
He has an aura around him. Whatever he is today is because of his own hard work and dedication.
Image: Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi in Khuda Gawah
'Everything Amitji does looks so beautiful'
Preity Zinta worked with Amitabh Bachchan in Armaan, Veer-Zaara, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and The Last Lear.
When I entered the industry, I wanted to work with two actors -- Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra.
I am one of Amitji's biggest fans. People know him as a very intense person but he has an amazing sense of humour and he is very cool!
My first film with him was Armaan (2003). I didn't have any scenes with him, so I would constantly ask the director Honey Irani to add a scene where I could share screen space with him.
Honey Aunty finally agreed, and there is a scene in the film where I am in coma, and Amitji sits next to me.
While we were shooting for the scene, I would try and open my eyes during the scene, so that I could just look at him. And then I'd frown at Honey Aunty. I would tell her that you gave me a scene where I had to keep my eyes shut! (Laughs).
Amitji is a man of his word. From acting to hosting television shows and reciting poetry or even singing in films, he is a multi-faceted person and everything he does looks so beautiful.
I have done four films with him and every time I learn something new from him.
Image: Preity Zinta and Amitabh Bachchan in The Last Lear
'Amitji calls me Malkin'
Shefali Shah has worked with Amitabh Bachchan in Viruddh, Waqt: The Race Against Time and The Last Lear.
The first time I met Amitji was when he was shooting for Sooryavansham, where I was offered a small role.
After that, I met him when my husband Vipul Shah directed him in Aankhen (2002). I remember it was a night shoot and I was sitting with Vipul watching the monitor. Amitji suddenly walked in and I got up and greeted him. I called him 'Sir'.
I was in awe of him and cannot think of anyone who isn't. But at the same time, when you are sharing screen space with him, you don't feel intimated because he puts his co-stars at such ease that you don't feel the pressure.
Amitji calls me Malkin, which is very embarrassing. He always pulls my leg. While we were shooting for Waqt, in which I played his wife, he felt I was dominating in the film and on the sets too.
In fact, it was he who suggested to Vipul that I be cast in Waqt, and to Rituparno Ghosh in The Last Lear.
Once, he watched a play of mine called Bas Itna Sa Khwaab, and gave me a standing ovation. After the play, he hugged me and cried. I will never forget that moment in my entire life.
It's very difficult to define Amitabh Bachchan. He has all the qualities of a gentleman.
In spite of being so successful, he is very affectionate and humble. He treats all his co-stars with respect, irrespective of age and experience.
The magical part about him is that even if you have interacted with him only once, he will still remember you and the conversation you have had. In spite of reaching the position he has reached, he is still a director's actor.
Image: Shefali Shah and Amitabh Bachchan in Waqt: The Race Against Time
'Amitji shared the make-up room with Ramesh Deo and me during Anand'
Seema Deo worked with Amitabh Bachchan in Anand and Mard.
The first time I saw him, I had asked (husband) Rameshji (Deo, actor) has this man come to the industry to become a hero? He looks like a giraffe!
Amitji shared the make-up room with Rameshji and me, as he was new to the industry. He became a superstar only because of his hard work and his punctuality.
In Mard, I played his mother. His mother in the film is actually Nirupaji (Roy) but my character takes care of him since childhood. It was when I met him on the sets of Mard that I realised the hard work he put in, from Anand to Mard -- he had worked on his voice, his performances, even his looks.
There is a scene in Mard where the whole village is burnt down by the Britishers. My character also gets burnt in it. Someone tells Amitji that his mother got burnt and he runs to me, carries me and starts crying.
I tell him, 'Mard ko dard nahi hota hai,' and then I die.
After that, he has to fall on me and cry. He gave such a marvelous performance that I wanted to get up and cry with him! And I told him that.
The humble man that Amitji is, he said, 'Seemaji, I could perform well only because you were so brilliant in the scene.'
I used to do Marathi plays as well then.
During the shooting of Mard, I had to perform in a play, and then get ready for the shoot the next day. I got up late, and there was no car at home -- both the cars were out.
So my hairdresser and I rushed to Chandivali studio, near Andheri, in suburban Mumbai, in a taxi. We were very nervous, as Amitji was always very punctual.
When we reached the studio, he was waiting for us. I sneaked in and thought he had not seen me. I did the make-up and came out as though I had arrived long ago.
Amitji came to me and said, 'Kyun Seemaji, maine dekha aapko. Abhi abhi toh aap taxi main aaye. Lekin jaldi tayaar ho gayi aap, koi baat nahi.' (Seemaji, I saw you coming just now in a taxi. But you got ready quickly, so no problem).
Image: Ramesh Deo, Seema Deo and Amitabh Bachchan in Anand