Amitabh's special birthday gift

  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
  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

  Who was AB's best heroine?

  Zeenat Aman
  Parveen Babi
  Hema Malini
  Neetu Singh


'Bachchan is like marijuana'

Rakesh Omprakash Mehra

Rakesh Mehra Amitabh is a tall man, 6'2" or more. You don't get personal with a person like him. You learn about him through his work.

I have worked with him for five or six years now. I have done commercials with him -- BPL, Pepsi, Escorts. He connects with simplicity. The moment you get complicated, you lose him. The moment you bring in smartness, you lose him. I have realised the best things emerge when we sit with him and try and approach it as students.

When we shot together for [Rakesh Mehra's directorial debut] Aks, we agreed to do certain things. Mostly, we agreed to disagree. He would say he didn't know why he was doing certain things. But after getting grumpy, he would give a better take. He is an artiste at channelising his energy. He was also going through a lot in his life, with Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited etc. Everything was at an ebb for him at the time we were working together.

But even when he didn't have a shot he would come and hang around the sets. Which was fantastic for our morale. So we couldn't see that ABCL wasn't doing well or his last five films had failed. For us he was Amitabh Bachchan and he redirected all his anger or helplessness or frustration towards his work which I thought was really balanced and really cool.

You have to either be completely balanced or completely insane to do that.

Once he agrees on something, he will never interfere. Despite that as an artiste, he brings in a new interpretation. Personally, I feel his worst is when he does an Amitabh Bachchan.

Earlier, I only wanted him to do an Amitabh. I would be very angry if he did anything else. Today, I don't want him to do an Amitabh Bachchan. Destiny has brought us together. Working with him is about extending oneself, to check for myself and see if there are any unexplored corners.

I remember the first commercial he had ever done. It was for BPL and I was shooting it. I couldn't understand how Amitabh could do a commercial. Half of me was saying it was wrong and half of me was saying, 'C'mon, it is a career opportunity and if you are chosen to do commercials with Amitabh Bachchan, it makes news anyway. It means you have arrived in some way. We sat hard and long over the scripts since it was his first foray into endorsing products.

We did the music video of [Amitabh's music album] Eir Bir Phatte. It was great fun. In fact, everything I have done with him has been fun. I was still discovering him. I used to close my eyes and say, 'He is not Amitabh Bachchan. I am going to ask him to do the most ridiculous thing and he has to perform. He is an actor.' I was in awe of him.

But he makes it easy to direct him. I am doing another film with him and Abhishek. The other cast is being finalised.

Bachchan is like marijuana. You get spoilt and addicted to him. Once you have worked with him, you want to work with him again.

I don't think he can really afford to get too friendly with anyone. I know he is very caring towards his parents and children. That is inspiring, to see that a person with such a busy schedule doesn't let his family down. There are simple rules between him and Abhishek. One of them has to be in town [Mumbai]. So they work their schedules accordingly.

He has upgraded himself, keeps growing. If you look at his desktop, in the last three years, his computer has changed to the latest one. Not out of fashion but because he wants to learn.

The bad thing about him is that he sulks and never lets it out. He comes from a generation where you don't have to shout into a person's ear to make him listen.

I have always felt there is an Amitabh Bachchan behind the Amitabh Bachchan. And it is the one behind who is doing everything. The one in front is only asking you to have tea or showing you his 100 pens. But the one behind is the incredible bloke, the one who is actually directing the one in front.

Rakesh Omprakash Mehra spoke to Lata Khubchandani


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