Jaya on Amitabh

  Ajitabh, Ramola on AB

  Abhishek on AB

  Shweta on AB

  'Doctor, will I act again?'

  Hema Malini
  Neetu Singh
  Puneet Issar
  Nirupa Roy
  Shashi Kapoor
  Shatrughan Sinha

  Prakash Mehra
  Ramesh Sippy
  Tinnu Anand
  K Bhagyaraj
  Rakesh Mehra
  Prahlad Kakkar

  Slide Show
  AB's birthday gift
  The director's actor
  The family man
   A day with AB

  Neerja Shah
  Anwar Ali
  Romesh Sharma
  Khalid Mohamed

   Age is just a number for AB
  AB, rare class act

   Sweet 60! A factfile
  Jessica Hines

  Readers' take
  'AB is the greatest entertainer'
  Happy birthday, Amitabh!

  AB on Rediff
  AB's filmography

  Which AB do you like best?

  Angry young man
  Game show host
  Mature artiste


'What better birthday gift than to see my son engaged?'

On the eve of his 60th birthday, Amitabh Bachchan is all over the place, gracing a mahurat in Mumbai, shooting in Mauritius for Honey Irani's Armaan with his samdhi-to-be Randhir Kapoor (whose daughter Karisma will be engaged to Bachchan's son Abhishek), looking after his ailing parents and attending a thousand phone calls.

Sixty is a special occasion, made all the more special by news of Abhishek's forthcoming engagement to Karisma. Excerpts from an interview with Subhash K Jha:

Will Abhishek's wedding with Karisma be a huge affair?

Not necessarily. The two families have to sit down together and see what kind of a wedding we both want, work out a date, etc. Babita [Karisma's mother] is away in New Zealand with her younger daughter Kareena.

Abhishek is shooting with her for Sooraj Barjatya's Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon. Daboo (Randhir Kapoor) is in Mauritius shooting for Honey Irani's film Armaan, in which I too have a role. As soon as they return, we will sit down to find out what we want and what the kids have in mind. Then we will go ahead with the wedding.

What better gift for my birthday than to see my son engaged? If both families agree then we shall certainly do it. It all depends on what Daboo and Babita want.

To be very honest, as far as I am concerned, for all practical purposes Lolo [Karisma] has already come home. She is my bahu, and part of our home. But yes, certain formalities have to be obviously observed.

When will the marriage take place?

As soon as we arrive at a mutually convenient date. I will have to take the opinion of all concerned. These are all social formalities. Like I said, for me, Lolo is already part of our family.

Why has your next release Kaante been delayed?

It has now been shifted to December. Sanjay Dutt told me the film's mixing in Los Angeles is taking longer than expected. There, they work only four days a week.

You play a man who masterminds a bank robbery in the film.

I don't mastermind the robbery as I did in Aankhen. In Kaante, it is a combined effort of six people as opposed to Aankhen, where my character designed the whole heist.

I am just one of the guys in Kaante. It is not traditional escapist fare. It is a lot more realistic. It has certainly been shot in a unique manner. I feel the music is unique; it fits into the ambience of the film.

Do you get to sing and dance in Kaante?

There are no such opportunities. What I do is what I would probably do at my age. A small jig and a song in the privacy of a home. In the film, my buddies and I get together, have a drink and start singing. Many Indians do that after they drink.

You are also doing a war film for the first time.

You mean Farhan Akhtar's Lakshya? I did play an army man many years ago in Manoj Kumar's Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, then in Major Saab and Hindustan Ki Kasam. In Lakshya, I play a senior army officer.

Where would you find the time to celebrate your sonís marriage?

We just have to take the time off. As soon as the family decides what has to be done and when, I will be with them a hundred per cent. It is a very happy occasion. I am very excited for myself and Jaya, for my parents and for Abhishek and Lolo.

Back to films, you and Hema Malini look astonishingly good together in your latest production Baghban.

Hemaji is looking truly gorgeous. Mera kya hai? Hum to ab saatth saal ke ho gaye [I am now 60]. We are playing our age -- I am 60, she is 50. Since there aren't too many actors and actresses who fit the bill, I guess we were chosen by default.

There wasn't too much chemistry in the films you did together in the past.

We never did too many films together. Whatever we did like Sholay, Kasauti, Naseeb and Desh Premi worked quite well. I don't think it is right to say we did not work as a pair.

I had so many other films with Raakheeji, Rekha, Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman. Maybe my films where I was paired directly with Hemaji did not work. But we were both part of Sholay, Trishul and Andha Kanoon which were huge hits.

How is it working with her after so many years?

Wonderful, wonderful! She has not changed at all. In fact, I see no difference between her and Esha [Deol]. I keep teasing her about it. Esha is an absolute pet of Jaya after they worked together in a film [Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche]. In fact, Jaya is a great Esha promoter.

I have been attending Hemaji's dance recitals sporadically. It is not as though we have not kept in touch with each other. We meet socially and we had been discussing over the phone the possibility of doing a film together when Baghban happened.

You and Hemaji are the pivotal characters in Baghban.

Yes, but the other characters also form an integral part of the story. It is our story and that is quite unusual for mainstream Hindi cinema. It is about an elderly retired couple with children and daughters-in-law. The couple is separated by the children. It is a contemporary urban tale and a change from the usual patriarchal roles.

Baghban and [Kaizad Gustad's] Boom have given me something completely different to do. Boom is totally tongue-in-cheek. It is something I have not done before. I play an underworld don who interacts with these three ladies who are, in a sense, smugglers. It is very funny and unreal. We have finished shooting for the film.

Working with Kaizad Gustad must have been a unique experience for you.

I think he has carved a special niche for himself. It was a wonderful experience, a very young crew, all neatly organised and well-planned. The schedule in Dubai went well. It was a great joy working in something a little offbeat.

And you are paired with Zeenat Aman?

I am not paired with anyone in Boom. Let's just say, I am interested in Padma Lakshmi. Like I said it is a very tongue-in-cheek affair.

How tongue-in-cheek?

In the way the dialogues and scenes are presented. The humour is quite different from the other comedies I have done so far. Kaizad and I spent a lot of time together before going on the sets. He explained what he wanted done over several meetings. We just hit it off.

You are working with another young exciting director Farhan Akhtar.

Lakshya is a film with a war background with Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and me. I play a general.

And you are working with Farhanís mother Honey Irani!

I have already shot one schedule with her. It is my first film with a woman director. Hers is a very, very accomplished unit. I have worked with Farhan's father [writer Javed Akhtar]. Now, I am working with his mother.

It is a very interesting story where I am with Anil Kapoor, Preity and Gracy Singh. It is a social film about a family issue. My role is decidedly small. Honey was very keen that I do it. She is exquisitely well planned very competent and organised. No time wasted. Every detail is worked out beforehand.

So there is very little problem on the sets.

It is amazing but you are working with three generations of filmmakers simultaneously.

It is not as though they are all rushing forward to sign me. Whenever an elderly actor is required, they come to me.

You think it is as simple as that.

Of course. I don't think there is any other criteria. Maybe I can stretch myself as an actor in the films that I do for Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd. I am doing films for my company with Rakesh Omprakash Mehra [Aks] and Vipul Shah [Aankhen] soon.

Rakesh is toying with the idea of doing a caper with me and Abhishek. Vipul will direct two films, one with Abhishek and the other with Akshay Kumar and another actor.

What happened to the Aamir Khan project for AB Corp Ltd?

That is also on. We are waiting for Mansoor Khan to come back with the script.

So, AB Corp Ltd is back in action.

I hope so.


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