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November 13, 1997


The son also rises

Sharmila Taliculam

Future star?: Abhishek Bachchan. Click for bigger pic!
Amitabh's son has signed a film.

He has been signed up by Manoj Desai, producer of the Amitabh fizzler Khuda Gawah and chairman of the Amitabh Bachchan Fan Club (official version).

There have been rumours that Abhishek Bachchan would mind not acting. And that Bachchan pater was planning a major launch for him. In fact, when Rediff On The NeT asked Amitabh Bachchan about the rumours, the big B innocently returned, "Really, I didn't know that."

But all the rumours died from lack of nourishment soon after Amitabh, in another interview, said he would prefer Abhishek finishing his studies first. Studies through, Abhishek still didn't seem to be doing anything other than becoming an Life Insurance Corporation agent and not wangling a Rs 1.5 billion policy for his father. No producer or director apparently seemed convinced with his abilities.

Correction, one of them was. Family friend Manoj Desai, one of the few who was invited to Shweta Bachchan's marriage. During the celebrations, Abhishek seemed to be in high spirits, and when he began dancing, along with ABCL discoveries Chandrachur Singh and Arshad Warsi, to the song Chapa chapa charkha chalein from Machchis, Desai says, "I couldn't believe what I saw. One moment he (Abhishek) acted like Tabu and the other moment he was the hero."

Getting first crack: Producer Manoj Desai Click for bigger pic!
Desai, in high spirits himself, promptly handed Rs 101 to Jaya Bachchan as a signing amount for Abhishek, her and Bachchan. Shah Rukh Khan gets to play Bachchan's younger brother, Jaya, what else, the wife.

Abhishek's role in the film has not yet been fixed. All that's been decided is that it will be a powerful one.

"This does not mean that Shah Rukh will be given a raw deal. His role will be equally good," Desai assures hastily. In fact, Shah Rukh Khan, according to Desai, is thrilled and has said, "Ab mazaa ayega, (It will be fun)."

"His (Abhishek's) talent is amazing. What do you expect when he has such talented parents? The blood tells you everything," he says.

"Yes, I might be launching him. That is, if he doesn't sign another film and that releases first. He is free to do so if he likes to," says Desai.

Abhishek with dad Amitabh
He is also happy that Abhishek not only looks like his father, but speaks like him too. "He's got the same deep baritone and I feel it's half the job done", says Desai. The script is being written by Sanjeev Duggal, Desai himself and Jaya Bachchan. The director?

Ah, that's a Big secret! "I can only say that the director is a big name and that he is one of the best," Desai says enigmatically. He is more open about the female leads though -- he plans to target Karisma Kapoor and Juhi Chawla.

The film's going to be a family drama with a hint of patriotism. "It won't be a routine film. And that doesn't mean it will be an art film either. This film will be different," says Desai. Which, of course, explains everything nicely.

While expectations may run high, Desai is confident that he will have no problem meeting them. "The future of a film is decided by the Friday matinee show," he intones, adding, less like a soothsayer, "This film will definitely pull in the crowds, I am sure."

It very well might. And if Abhishek Bachchan's all Desai cuts him out to be, after 25 years there's another superstar in the making.

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