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This article was first published 2 years ago  » Movies » 'I don't indulge in one-upmanship, jealousy and rivalry'

'I don't indulge in one-upmanship, jealousy and rivalry'

November 29, 2021 09:38 IST
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'I never allow myself to look anxiously over my shoulder at what my co-star is doing.'

IMAGE: Abhishek Bachchan in Bob Biswas.

Abhishek Bachchan is all set to introduce us to his new character Bob Biswas, playing the titular role in Diya Annapurna Ghosh's directorial debut.

Produced by Diya's father Sujoy Ghosh, the film focuses on the 'ordinary' contract killer character from his hit film Kahaani.

So how did Bachchan play this character?

"I needed to feel Bob Biswas's belly, not just pretend with a pillow tied to my midriff. Nowadays audiences catch on to any kind of fakery in a performance," he tells Subhash K Jha.

Bob Biswas is your second film, after Big Bull where you have gone for a completely transformative approach to your character. The slouch, the girth, the accent...

What accent?

We were very clear on this.

We didn't want Bob Biswas to have a pronounced Bengali accent.

Such distractions take away from the performance.

But yes, you're right about the slouch -- I had to practice the Bob Biswas walk for weeks.

And, of course, the girth. I had to put on almost 20 kilos for the role.

But that's dangerous after 40.

Yes. But I did manage to lose the avoirdupois -- pardon my French -- after gaining it.

I did the weight gain and weight loss under strict medical supervision, so I did not suffer any medical side effects.

When I had put on weight 15 years ago for Guru I had done it unsupervised and had suffered some serious health issues.

In the 15 years that have passed since, the film industry has become a far more professional place.

No one is expected to take unnecessary risks for a role.

IMAGE: Abhishek Bachchan in Guru.

Why was it so important for you to put on weight for this role?

Sujoy Ghosh, who produced Bob Biswas, his daughter Diya who directs the film, and I sat down to discuss the character.

We imagined Bob Biswas as portly, so my character needed a potbelly.

Sujoy and Diya suggested prosthetics, but I was opposed to it.


Because prosthetics, no matter how professionally done, always looks fake.

At least they don't feel right for me.

It always feels like an artificial part of my performance.

I needed to feel Bob Biswas's belly, not just pretend with a pillow tied to my midriff.

Nowadays audiences catch on to any kind of fakery in a performance.

Today's audiences watch cinema from the world over. They know when an actor is faking it.

Thanks to OTT, your competition are global characters, not only Bollywood colleagues.

I don't believe in competition.

I never allow myself to look anxiously over my shoulder at what my co-star is doing.

But you can't deny that competition exists.

Of course it does. So does one-upmanship, jealousy and rivalry.

I just don't want to indulge in them or even think about such negative things.

You have worked with Sujoy Ghosh earlier and now in Bob Biswas, you are working with his daughter. Did you feel you were carrying on a lineage?

I don't know about that. But I did feel very emotional watching Diya at work.

I had done cameos for Sujoy's films, but we haven't done a full-fledged film as yet.

Bob Biswas is written by Sujoy.

When I was offered the film and told his daughter was directing, I didn't even think twice.

I just said yes without even reading the script.

To me, relationships have always mattered above professional interests.


IMAGE: Abhishek Bachchan in Bob Biswas.

Did Diya deliver the directorial skills that you expected?

Believe me, it is hard to believe that Bob Biswas is her first film.

She's just 26 and so sure of what she wants from her script and actors, and how to get it.

It is amazing how much talent the kids of today have.

Is it any different shooting with a female director?

No. Male directors can be as sensitive, perceptive and gentle as the script wants them to be.

I've worked with women directors in the past, like Farah Khan and Revathy.

But I have never looked at them as women directors.

IMAGE: Abhishek Bachchan in Bob Biswas.

What attracted you to Bob Biswas?

You know, I've always tried to pick roles that challenge me.

What makes Bob Biswas so special is that he is such a normal, regular guy.

If you spotted him in a crowd, you wouldn't be able to tell him apart from the others.

This nondescript Everyman looks ordinary. And he kills people.

That's his job.

What was it like shooting in Kolkata for Bob Biswas?

I admit Kolkata feels like home.

My ma is a Bengali and my pa is considered the son-in-law of Bengal.

They consider me their grandson.

It's a huge honour for me to shoot in Kolkata whenever I can. It is very heartening to return to Kolkata.

I shot in this city for Mani Ratnam's Yuva in 2003.

I also shot for Rituparno Ghosh's Antar Mahal in Kolkata.

Then I did another Bengali film -- Partha Sengupta's Desh -- where I played my own mom's son.

Each time I've been given a royal welcome here.

IMAGE: Abhishek Bachchan in Dasvi.

This seems to be a cluttered time for you work-wise?

I wouldn't call it a clutter because I enjoy what I do.

But yes, I have Bob Biswas.

Then soon after that, I've another film called Dasvi which I'm proud of.

Then I've just shot in Chennai for a film that I'm producing.

I've also completed another season of the Web series Breathe.

Do you think the era of the star system is over?

The love of stars will never wane.

What would you call Tom Cruise?

But yes, with the OTT emerging as a viable option for releasing films, audiences want to watch good content.

They still love their stars, but they want to see them in good content.

Final question, do you think there will ever be another Amitabh Bachchan?


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