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May 15, 1999


'I will leave when I feel that people don't want me'

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The last part of Amitabh Bachchan's exclusive to Vir Sanghvi.

Let's lighten up slightly. What have been the happiest moments of the last three years.

The wedding of my daughter. My granddaughter.

What is it like being a grandfather?

Oh, it's the most exciting moment of anyone's life. You feel rejuvenated because there is a child all over again. You start getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning to check if everything is all right with the baby.


Yes, you do things you didn't do for your own children. And there is a constant pang of absence when the granddaughter is not around. You worry for her. You want to know when she is going to walk, or what she said. You go out to buy some things for her, a dress maybe, or a toy. It's just wonderful.

Were you like that with your own children?

I was too busy working. (That's) not to say that I wasn't anxious about my own children! But I think with your own kids, you say, let them have a few bumps, let him come up the hard way and he'll be okay. But with your grandchildren it's different. Everything goes! It's just unbelievable involvement.

I don't know if it's widely known that Abhishek has been working with you. What has it been like?

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I think the greatest advantage is that he is family and that he is going to understand you better than anyone else. So you get sincerity, honesty, trust and faith, which I never got when I was working with my executives. It's very reassuring to know that the person is going to work for your interests.

Other than that, as a father, it is a great process of educating, of teaching your progeny what you have learnt. You want your son to learn the pitfalls. There are things you want to warn him against. Why waste this huge experience of so many years?

Were you happy when Abhishek said that he was going to make movies?

Yes, I was.

Did you always know that he was going to be an actor?

No. But somewhere inside I hoped that he would. I haven't pushed Abhishek in the traditional sort of way. I have let him do his bit on his own. I must admit that I don't like that very much. I would have loved to spend time telling him about camera techniques, about action techniques, about direction... I have tried often to do that, but he has always resisted.


Yeah. Now that I look at it, I say he's fine. He's had an opportunity to pick up wherever he can from my own experience. But if he doesn't want that, I would give him the leverage to do something on his own. And I'm hoping that he will pleasantly surprise me.

Will you make movies with Abhishek?

Yes, we are acting together. We have a commitment to J P Dutta, that Abhishek will not release any movies before his debut. But that film is nearly ready, and now we have identified scripts for movies in which Abhishek and I will act together.

Jaya has returned to acting. How did that come about?

The home is adequately managed. The daughter is married and off. The son is six foot three inches, and capable of looking after himself. The husband remains more on location than at home. What does she do? She has to keep herself occupied. And so she chose to get back to acting.

Have you seen Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Ma?

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Did you like it?

I didn't like the movie as such. I liked her performance.

Why didn't you like the movie?

I felt it was too verbose. I felt: why did they have to make a film -- they could have just written an article.

That's pretty damning, isn't it?

I told this to her, and I told this to Govind Nihalani as well.

Is she as harsh a critic of your movies?

She's worse. She walks out.

She walks out of screenings?

Not recently, but yes, she has.

Well, if she can sit through Mrityudata, she is a very loyal wife.

No, she didn't sit through Mrityudata.

Who can blame her? But more seriously do you see yourself retiring? Or do you see yourself working till the end?

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I will leave when I feel that people don't want me anymore.

What would make you think that?

The non-success of my films. The lack of recognition on the streets. People getting abusive. There were moments -- when I was still a struggling actor -- when I would be stopped on the streets and told to get the hell out of the city because I was wasting my time.

Who would say that to you?

People on the streets. They would put their heads inside the window of the car and be abusive about my acting abilities.

That must have been quite demoralising. You're driving along and a guy you've never seen pokes his head into your window and says, Arre, chhod, chhod, go home.

Well, you feel bad. And you feel worse because you know your parents are sitting behind you in your car.

That hasn't happened to you recently?

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To be fair, there have been occasions when people have said, 'I don't think you should do this or maybe you should do something else.' There is the odd one, but by and large people have been very receptive.

I hope they will continue their patronage. And I hope I will not disappoint them in the years to come.

Read the Bachchan interview from beginning:
The Big B Interview, Part I: 'I have never been confident about my career'
The Big B Interview, Part II: 'What has age got to do with acting?'
The Big B Interview, Part III: 'Beggars can't be choosers'
The Big B Interview, Part IV: 'I don't have many friends'

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